May 09, 2014

A literary award called the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize? Seriously?

Yes. And comically, too. The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is a literary award for the best comic fiction of the year, sponsored by-- you guessed it -- the Champagne house Bollinger, suitably sparkling, and Everyman's Library, which has been busy for some time publishing handsome new editions of all of P.G. Wodehouse's novels and stories. You may have seen their characteristic covers by Andrzej Klimowski winking at you from the recommended shelf at your library.

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize winner receives large amounts of Bollinger champagne (this year a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée and a case of Bollinger La Grande Année), and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection, over 90 books so far.

In addition and best of all, in "true Wodehousian style", as the Everyman's Library website puts it, each year the winner is also presented with a "local pig" of the Gloucestershire Old Spot variety, which has been given the name of the winning novel. Presumably these are different pigs, and not just the original Old Spot rebaptised.
In this context, I was pleased to learn that the winning book in 2012 was Terry Pratchett's Snuffand that in 2001 Jonathan Coe won with The rotters' club.

This year's shortlist, announced Wednesday, while not perhaps such a rich mine for pigs' names, has the distinction of including Sebastian Faulks's sequel-homage to PG Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, which The Guardian praised as a "gentle, funny, knowing act of tribute".

The other shortlisted titles are:

Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding's third novel about Bridget Jones,

The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi, which I haven't read, but if it's anything like his satire of London popular culture in the sixties and seventies, The Buddha of Suburbia, which I have read, it would get my vote,

Straight White Male by John Niven, a "no-holds-barred look into the mid-life crisis and the contemporary male sexual psyche" says the library catalogue, topics I think no one can dispute are great favourites among today's satirisers, particularly, perhaps, those who were taught at their creative writing classes to "Write what you know" (a line I wish I'd come up with, and unfortunately can't remember who did),

The Thrill of it All  by the Irish novelist Joseph O’Connor, described on his website as "a warm-hearted, funny and deeply moving novel for anyone that’s ever loved a song",

Lost For Words by Edward St Aubyn, according to its publisher a "hilariously smart send-up of a certain major British literary award", presumably not the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, though it would be wonderful if it were.

Whether the pig will be a straight white male, lost for words, or something else, will become known on 19th May.

In the meantime, Wodehouse fans can amuse themselves with this very interesting and well-illustrated commentary on P.G. Wodehouse covers old and new, from Caustic Cover Critic.

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 10:00


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