Bookmakers fear a six-figure payout after slashing the odds on the favourite for today's Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Tom McCarthy's novel C has been given shorter odds than 2009 winner Wolf Hall, which also left bookmakers out of pocket. William Hill puts McCarthy's book at 8/11 to land the coveted literary prize.
The winner will be announced at the Guildhall in London, with the successful author collecting a £50,000 prize. William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said C was the "heaviest backed Booker book ever".
Last year, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall became the first odds-on favourite to win the prize, costing bookermakers dearly.
"Until last year people were despairing of a favourite ever winning," said Mr Sharpe. "But a similar gamble has seen C's odds collapse to 8/11 favourite this week and the industry is facing up to a second successive six-figure clobbering should the gamble prove to be an inspired one."