Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction Shortlist

Terry Pratchett and Sue Townsend compete for UK’s leading comic fiction prize

Sir Terry Pratchett and Sue Townsend are amongst the five writers on the shortlist for this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, announced today, Thursday 10 May 2012.

It is the fourth time Pratchett has been nominated for the prize, having previously been shortlisted for his novels Thief of Times (2002), Going Postal (2005) and Thud (2006). John O’Farrell and Julian Gough both appear on the list for a second time, whilst Sue Townsend and John Lanchester are newcomers to the prize. Although the themes of this year’s shortlist are varied - from London post-financial meltdown to alternate realities – they all share an element of Wodehousian humour. 

13 years down the line, the prize continues its track record of finding true comic gems – previous winners include Paul Torday’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Ian McEwan’s Solar and Marina Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – as well as discovering iconoclastic masterpieces such as DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little, which went on to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The five shortlisted novels are:

  • Capital by John Lanchester (Faber & Faber)
Described as having ‘a touch of Dickens’ by Clare Tomalin, this chronicle of London life post-financial meltdown follows a small cross-section of the inhabitants of one south London street. The Guardian calls the book ‘a brainy state-of-the-nation novel’

  • Jude in London by Julian Gough (Old Street Publishing)
The sequel to his previously shortlisted Jude: Level 1, Jude in London follows penniless Irish orphan Jude as he walks the length of England on a quest to find his True Love, winning the Turner Prize and killing the Poet Laureate on the way. The book was shortlisted for The Guardian’s 2011 ‘Not the Booker shortlist
  • Snuff by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers)
‘As funny as Wodehouse and as witty as Waugh’ (Independent), Snuff is Terry Pratchett’s 50th book and the 39th in the Discworld novels. The book, which sees Commander Sam Vimes investigating a country house murder whilst on holiday, has become one of the fastest-selling novels since records began

  • The Woman who went to bed for a year by Sue Townsend (Michael Joseph)
‘An exquisite social comedy’ (Daily Telegraph), this is the story of Eva who, on the day her gifted twins leave home for university, climbs into bed and stays there

  • The Man Who Forgot His Wife by John O'Farrell (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers)
‘A heart-warming comedy of marriage – and divorce’ (Guardian), this is the story of Jack Vaughan who, after an amnesiac episode on the tube, can remember nothing about his life, including his wife. But when he next sees his wife – to whom he’s getting divorced – it’s love at first sight and sets Vaughan on a mission to rescue his marriage

The judges of the prize are: James Naughtie, broadcaster and author; David Campbell, Everyman’s Library publisher and Peter Florence, Director of The Telegraph Hay Festival. Peter Florence comments on the shortlist:

It's a really happy list which resonates with lots of the verbal wit, delightful characterisation and satirical edge of Wodehouse's own work.  There are three great comic writers on top form - O'Farrell, Pratchett and Townsend, John Lanchester's masterly novel Capital that teems with humour and Julian Gough's picaresque satire Jude in London.’

As is customary, this year’s winner will be announced just ahead of the Hay festival in late May, followed by an audience with the winner during the festival. The winner will receive a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection which now totals over 80 books. The winner will also be honoured with the presentation of a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, who will be named after their winning title. 

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