Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Comic Novel and A Pig

This may or may not be the actual
Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize
I have been trying to catch up with myself today and ran across the announcement in the May 15 edition of The Guardian that author Howard Jacobson was awarded a pig. The pig is the actual trophy presented to the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. I am probably the last to know...not only about the winner but also the prize.

I have not read Mr. Jacobson's Zoo Time for which he won this pig. It is a satire of the publishing industry and I see that mirabile dictu is crazy about the book.

I am a great fan of the comic novel. I am just coming to realize this. (See what gems of self-knowledge come with keeping an online book journal?) I knew that I loved P.G. Wodehouse for all of his characters (including the Empress of Blandings) and Donald Westlake for his hapless Dortmunder capers, but I never gave it a thought that they were "comic novels" per se. I just enjoyed them and didn't think to categorize them.

There were many suggestions of other funny authors made in the comments on the article. I saw the names of Michael Frayn, Bill Bryson, James Thurber, Jerome K. Jerome, and Stella Gibbons to name a few that I have chuckled over.

No one named Angela Thirkell and the comments were closed so I couldn't do it. I can think of others. Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©) comes to mind as does Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions and Framed). 

I really don't like a novel that claims to be funny but only because the characters are so absolutely bizarre and quirk after quirk is attributed to them. Or sometimes the situations are simply totally ludicrous rather than amusing.

I am adding Zoo Time to my TBR list along with two that caught my eye in the comments: Diary of a Nobody (1892) by George and Weedon Grossmith and The Country Life (2000) by Rachel Cusk.

I am thrilled to learn about the existence of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and will be searching for past nominees and winners to add some of their books to my list.

How about you? Is there an author or book that you find particularly amusing? Leave a suggestion. We could all certainly use a good laugh!


  1. While I don't think he has ever been on any list(s) for awards Donald Jack (The Bandy Papers series) books are a great laugh. Not sure if you will be able to find any of his works readily but he worth a look.

    1. Thanks Tullik. I see that my library has a copy of "Me Too" but no others. That one is about halfway through the Bandy Paper series.

  2. Belle!
    While its always better to start at the start (sound a bit obvious!) however in his "series" you can jump in without being too lost as to chronology.