Forgotten novel wins book award
Stoner, by American novelist John Williams, counts Hollywood star Tom Hanks among its fans and has been a huge word-of-mouth success since it was re-published.
The book, about the life and times of an American professor, was published in 1965 but soon forgotten until it was reissued last year.
Waterstones managing director James Daunt said: "It's incredible that Stoner nearly disappeared, but supremely gratifying that we have played some small part in bringing it back to British readers' attentions. The year of publication is of no import - this is the book everyone has been talking about in 2013, the very least we can do is name it our Book of the Year."
Texas-born Williams, who died in 1994, was an academic and published four novels and two books of poetry in his lifetime.
His book beat contenders including Julian Barnes' memoir about the death of his wife, Levels Of Life, and Kate Atkinson's novel Life After Life.
The shortlisted books are drawn up from nominations from Waterstones staff and the winning book can expect to benefit from in-store promotion at the chain.
Amazon's 10 best books of 2013
Tiny book of psalms sells for £8.7m