When they say they are looking for funny books the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction are not kidding around. This morning the judges announced that none of the 62 novels submitted this year felt worthy to “to join the heady comedic ranks of PG Wodehouse” and have decided to forgo announcing a winner, instead creating a rollover prize for 2019.
The judges were looking for a book that “prompted unanimous, abundant laughter”, but this year’s batch raised only a “wry smile” from the judges, which included 2013 Funny Women Awards finalist Sindhu Vee and broadcaster James Naughtie.
“My fellow judges and I have decided to withhold the prize this year to maintain the extremely high standards of comic fiction that the … prize represents,” said judge David Campbell, the publisher of Everyman’s Library. “Despite the submitted books producing many a wry smile amongst the panel during the judging process, we did not feel that any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect. We look forward to awarding a larger rollover prize next year to a hilariously funny book.
“Wodehouse is so incredibly great, he really does make you laugh out loud. But that’s not an easy thing to do at all. There were lots of very good novels, but nothing outstandingly funny … Nothing stood out this year. There were a lot of witty submissions, bloody good novels, but they weren’t comic novels. The alchemy was not there.”
The winner is traditionally presented with a case of champagne and a rare breed pig named after the winning book at the annual Hay Literary festival. Due to the rollover next year’s bumper prize will include a methuselah of bubbly and a particularly large pig.
The books that failed to make the grade this year have not been revealed, however previous winners include Helen Fielding, Ian McEwan, Terry Pratchett and Marina Lewycka.