A literary hunt was launched for the most enjoyable read of the year, with best-selling authors Mark Haddon and David Mitchell vying for top prize.
Leisure firm Whitbread Plc has ended its 34-year sponsorship of the annual award. It has now been taken over by the group's coffee shop chain Costa which announced the shortlist yesterday.
In contrast to the Booker Prize, which puts the emphasis on literary merit, the Costa opts, above all, for readability.
The prize is split into five categories -- novel, first novel, children's book, biography and poetry.
A £5,000 pound winner is picked in each category and an overall £25,000 winner will be announced on February 7, 2007.
The novel category looked to be among the most hotly contested with Haddon, author of chart-topping The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, who was picked for his latest novel, A Spot of Bother.
|David Mitchell authored Black Swan Green|
He is pitched against Mitchell's Black Swan Green with William Boyd's Restless another fancied contender.
Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney was tipped to win the poetry award for his District and Circle collection.