About A Boy author Nick Hornby has been shortlisted as a possible winner for next year's (06) Whitbread best novel prize.

The British writer, whose best-selling novels High Fidelity, Fever Pitch and ABOUT A BOY all became box office smashes, has seen his latest offering A LONG WAY DOWN earn rave reviews.

Salman Rushdie is considered his main competitor with his recent release SHALIMAR THE CLOWN.

ALI SMITH's The Accidental and CHRISTOPHER WILSON's THE BALLARD OF LEE COTTON are also contenders for the coveted award.

The ceremony will take place on 24 January (06) in London.