Having taken the inaugural award in 2000, Howard Jacobson has this week won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for the second time, garnering top honours for his novel Zoo Time. The Bloomsbury-published title beat Joseph Connolly’s England’s Lane, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods, Michael Frayn’s Skios and Deborah Moggach’s Heartbreak Hotel. It now only remains to be seen what Jacobson is going to do with the traditional prize, seeing as, having won previously, he presumably has a set of the complete works of PG Wodehouse going spare. Maybe he can mull it over over a glass of the Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée that also forms part of his winning haul, possibly musing aloud to the Gloucestershire Old Spots pig that will now be named after his triumphant novel.
Jacobson at least seems to be fairly pleased with his second win, saying ‘This is the only literary prize that actively seeks out and rewards comedy. Other prizes often view it 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.’ Apologising for the fact that his pig has been landed with the unfortunate name Zoo Time, he did go on to acknowledge that at least the poor creature wasn’t stuck with a name that seems to have been read out at every other prize that’s going of late: ‘it could have been worse. It could have been Bring Up The Bodies.’
The Wodehouse was established in 2000, when Jacobson’s The Mighty Walzer won over Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Winners bookended by Jacobson include Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters Club, Michael Frayn’s Spies, DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little, Will Self’s The Butt, noted cut-up Ian McEwan’s Solar and, finally winning for its author last year after his many previous nominations, Terry Pratchett’s Snuff. It remains the UK’s only literary award for comic literature, but is not limited exclusively to British authors.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.