Howard Jacobson was named winner of the 2013 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize earlier this month for his novel Zoo Time, but he had to wait until the Hay Festival to be given his unusual prize. This is Jacobson’s second victory, having won the first ever Wodehouse prize in 2000 for his novel The Mighty Walzer. He was also previously shortlisted for the prize for Kalooki Nights (2007), proving himself a writer who truly captures the comic spirit of P.G. Wodehouse.
Howard Jacobson Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize credit Jeff Morgan
In true Wodehousian tradition, Jacobson was presented with a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, which has been named Zoo Time after the winning novel. It will join a long line of bizarrely named pigs, including Snuff, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye. As the 14th winner of the prize, Jacobson joins previous winners including Ian McEwan, Marina Lewycka, DBC Pierre and, most recently, Terry Pratchett.
Zoo Time tells the tale of Guy Ableman, a writer in torment over his conflicting affections for both his wife and mother-in-law, and the terminal state of literature. James Walton at The Daily Mail said of the book: ‘Few British novelists can touch him for such stirring, belligerent comedy, and almost every page contains at least three sentences that could go straight into any Dictionary of Humorous Quotations.’
Howard Jacobson himself comments: ‘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. So to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing once was bliss for me. To win it twice is very heaven. I am only sorry my pig has to be called Zoo Time. It feels a bit tactless. But it could have been worse. It could have been Bring Up The Bodies.’
As part of his prize Jacobson was also presented with a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman’s Library P.G. Wodehouse collection.