Wodehouse Prize reveals 2015 shortlist

The shortlist has been unveiled for the 2015 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, pitting three debuting novelists (all of them women, incidentally) against three long-established authors (all of them men, incidentally). Competing for the prize this year are: Losing It by Helen Lederer; Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith; How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran; The Dog by Joseph O’Neill; Men at the Helm by Nina Stibbe; and A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh.

Hay Festival director Peter Florence – who selected the shortlist in association with broadcaster James Naughtie and publisher David Campbell – says of this year’s nominees: ‘There are so many different kinds of laughter here.  Comedy as a savage weapon, comedy as bleak despair, comedy as wry observation and as warm humour and affection. These astonishingly gifted writers can turn phrases, create characters to love and rattle good yarns. There are wonders here and joys. We were delighted by them. Wodehouse’d be proud of them.’

Moran and Welsh have apparently been established as the frontrunners, this despite Welsh’s novel not seeing publication until later this month. Moran, of course, is a hugely popular writer and broadcaster outside of her fledgling novel-writing career, which may give her some momentum in the field, but her competitors are hardly unknown: Lederer is a comic actress of some repute, O’Neill was Booker longlisted last year for the same title that has been shortlisted here, Welsh’s book features characters previously introduced in his novel Glue, and McCall Smith seems to release a new book every other week, most of them bestsellers. Even Stibbe – arguably the least known of the field – previously found success with her book Love Nina: Despatches from Family Life, a collection of letters written during the 1980s while she was a nanny to much of the London literary scene.

The winner is announced in mid-May, before the Hay Festival starts on the 21st of that month.

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