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The Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2013


Zoo Time by Howard JacobsonI am going to go out and say it, there are far too many book prizes given out every year.  This isn’t to say that I don’t think authors deserve to be recognized for their fantastic work, it’s just that it can get a bit tedious when every day it seems that another seven prizes that I have never heard of are awarded (and I’m in the business of knowing what these prizes are).

This is why I really appreciate the Wodehouse Prize, it’s hard to forget. Instead of awarding the author some small pittance in cash, the winner of the prize (which is given for the best work of comic fiction) receives a prize so absolutely useless and comical that it could only be a Wodehouse prize:   An Everyman Library, a bottle of Bollinger Champagne, and an enormous Gloucester old spot pig named after the winning novel.

Gloucester Old Spot Boar

Gloucester Old Spot Boar

The winner of this year’s prize was Howard Jacobson for his novel Zoo Time.  It was the second time that Jacobson has won this award, which leaves you to wonder what he’s doing with all these pigs, and if they gave him a breeding pair would the Wodehouse committee be putting themselves out of business?

Jacobson commented that he was honored to have won this award, and is proud of his comic writing “Other prizes often view [comedy] as sort of embarrassing writerly malfunction – which is treacherous, in my view, when you consider the comic origins of the novel and the strong comedic traditions of English writing in particular. So to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic writing once was bliss for me. To win it twice is very heaven.”  He went on to say that it is a bit of a shame the pig has to be named Zoo Time, “But it could have been worse. It could have been Bring Up the Bodies.”

Runners up for the award were Joseph Connolly for England’s Lane, Helen DeWitt for Lightning Rods, Michael Frayn for Skios and Deborah Moggach for Heartbreak Hotel.

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