Irish short story specialist was given only an outside chance before a series of bets saw his odds drop to 10/1
Trevor, a novelist and short story writer who was knighted for his services to literature in 2002, was originally given odds by Ladbrokes of 100/1 to win the Nobel, which will be announced later this month.
But a series of bets have seen these odds tumble to just 10/1 this morning, making him third-favourite to win.
Haruki Murakami, the Japanese novelist who has headed the pack for this year's Nobel from the start, remains in front at 3/1, with the Chinese author Mo Yan at 8/1. The last Japanese writer to take the Nobel was Kenzaburo Oe in 1994, while Gao Xingjian won in 2000. Although Gao was born in China, he is now a French citizen. No other Chinese author has won the Nobel prize for literature, although US author Pearl Buck took the award in 1938 for "her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces".
Ladbrokes believes Trevor's literary credentials – the Irish author is seen as one of the world's greatest short story writers and has won a series of prizes for his novels – mean he has a "serious chance" of winning this year. "Trevor's odds have tumbled in the last week following a string of decent bets. We didn't see a penny for him until someone had £50 at 100/1 (meaning a potential return of £5,000 should he win) which was the first of several bets at the price," said Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Donohue.
"We had to slash his odds to 20/1 but this did nothing to abate the flow of money and he's now into 8/1. It bears all the hallmarks of a good, old-fashioned gamble which we've become accustomed to seeing over the years when we bet on awards. That's not to say at all that there is anything untoward going on, merely that there are people out there who thought the odds looked appealing. Often when odds shorten so dramatically it adds to the intrigue for those who like the idea of it being a 'hot tip'."
Lisa Allardice, the Guardian Review editor, said: "Along with Alice Munro, the doyenne of the form, William Trevor is widely regarded as one of the greatest living short story writers – indeed one of the greatest writers today, full stop.
"His spare, often bleak, yet heartbreakingly humane novels and stories balance extraordinary empathy with Graham Greene's essential sliver of ice at the heart. As far back as the 1970s, Greene opined that an early book by Trevor was 'one of the best collections, if not the best since James Joyce's Dubliners'. He would be a truly deserving winner of the Nobel."