Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ian McEwan wins Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction with Solar

Ian McEwan, an author perhaps better known for his award-winning literary fiction, has today, Tuesday 25 May 2010, been named winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2010 for his novel Solar (Random House, Jonathan Cape). As winner of the prize he joins another Man Booker Prize winner, DBC Pierre, and a long list of comic greats including Will Self, Paul Torday, Marina Lewycka, Michael Frayn and Howard Jacobson.

The prize – which is the UK’s only prize for comic fiction, now in its 11th year – celebrates the novel of the last 12 months that has best captured the comic spirit of P.G. Wodehouse.

McEwan’s 11th book, Solar is a novel take on climate change and focuses on the ambitions and self-deceptions of Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard, whose best days are long behind him. The Financial Times said of the book: “It is a stunningly accomplished work, possibly his best yet… the book does contain a truly shocking surprise – not that it deals with climate change, but that it is a comedy.”

David Campbell, judge and publisher of Everyman’s Library, comments on the choice of winner: “It was an easy unanimous decision by the judges. This is a brilliantly funny book, by a great writer.”

The winner is announced just ahead of a winner event at this year’s Guardian Hay Festival. At the event on Friday 28 May, Ian McEwan will speak about his winning book with Peter Florence, festival director and one of the judges of the prize, before receiving his prize: a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection.

As is tradition, McEwan will also be presented with a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, which will been named ‘Solar’ after the winning novel. Previous pigs have been less fortunate, with some christened A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

To celebrate this year’s prize, Bollinger is offering the chance to win the full set of the Everyman Wodehouse (70 books in total). These wonderful editions of the master feature beautiful cover illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski. To find out, more visit: www.experiencebollinger.co.uk.

The judges for the 2010 prize were broadcaster and author, James Naughtie; Everyman publisher, David Campbell; and Director of the Guardian Hay Festival, Peter Florence.

·    Solar was chosen from a shortlist of five. The four other titles were:
o    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Penguin, Hamish Hamilton)
o    Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray (Portobello Books)
o    One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
o    From Aberystwyth with Love by Malcolm Pryce (Bloomsbury)

·    Bollinger, one of the greatest Champagne houses, is still owned by the descendents of the family which founded the business in 1829.  Bollinger Champagne is based on exceptionally fine wines produced from grapes grown mainly in the family’s own vineyards.  The highest-quality, traditional methods are used to create Bollinger’s Special Cuvée and vintage Champagnes

·    Everyman began publishing Wodehouse in 2000 on the 25th anniversary of his death.  Everyman celebrated its 70th Everyman Wodehouse title in spring 2010 and the series will eventually contain all the Wodehouse novels and stories. The Everyman Wodehouse editions have beautiful cover illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski and are available in hardback at £10.99. New titles this year include: The Pothunters, Service with a Smile, A Pelican at Blandings and A Prefect’s Uncle

·    The previous winners of the prize are:

o    Howard Jacobson for The Mighty Waltzer (2000)
o    Jonathan Coe for The Rotter’s Club (2001)
o    Michael Frayn for Spies (2002)
o    DBC Pierre for Vernon God Little (2003)
o    Jasper Fforde for The Well of Lost Plots (2004)
o    Marina Lewycka for A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005)
o    Christopher Brookmyre for All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2006)
o    Paul Torday for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2007)
o    Will Self for The Butt (2008)
o    Geoff Dyer for Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (2009)

·    The Guardian Hay Festival runs from 27 May – 6 June 2010 (www.hayfestival.com

Ian McEwan's reaction:
“I'm delighted to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse - three names associated with distinctive and important pleasures. Some prizes offer fifty thousand pounds, but this one comes with a Gloucester Old Spot piglet attached and I'll be honoured to hold it in my arms. As long as it behaves.”

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