The shortlist for the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards, one of the most prestigious - and valuable - literary awards in the UK, has been announced. The Whitbread Book Awards are divided into four categories - Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book - with the winner of each category going forward to contest the overall Whitbread Book of the Year prize. A panel of three judges for each category selects a shortlist of four books and the category winners. For the overall Whitbread Book of the Year award a nine-strong judging panel selects one book from the five category winners. For the 2005 awards, leading novelists including Nick Hornby, Salman Rushdie and Ali Smith will contest the Novel award. In the Whitbread First Novel Award much of the publicity has centered on Rachel Zadok, shortlisted for her novel 'Gem Squash Tokoloshe'. The South African waitress working in London won her publishing contract as a result of entering the 'How to Get Published' slot on the popular daytime TV show 'Richard & Judy'. Also attracting attention is former postman Alexander Masters, shortlisted in the Biography category for 'Stuart', the life story of a homeless man he met while working at a day centre in Cambridge. Each of the category winners in the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards will receive £5,000 and the overall winner £25,000. The winners will be announced in London on January 24th. The Whitbread Literary Awards, as they were then known, were launched in 1971. In 1995 the format evolved to feature the category shortlists that are still used today. Other famous literary awards open to UK-based writers include the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.