Entertainment & Arts

Michael Frayn and Howard Jacobson up for Wodehouse prize

Michael Frayn and Howard Jacobson
Image caption Michael Frayn (left) and Howard Jacobson (right) are both previous winners

Michael Frayn and Howard Jacobson have been shortlisted for an award celebrating the year's funniest novels.

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction is given annually to the book considered to best capture the comic spirit of PG Wodehouse.

Frayn and Jacobson - both previous winners - are nominated alongside Joseph Connolly, Helen DeWitt and Deborah Moggach.

The victor will be announced just ahead of the Hay Festival in late May.

The winning author will also have a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after their winning title.

Three authors have appeared on the prize list before. Howard Jacobson won the first ever Wodehouse Prize in 2000 for his novel The Mighty Waltzer, while Frayn won two years later for Spies.

Jacobson was also shortlisted for Kalooki Nights in 2006, while Deborah Moggach was shortlisted in 2004 for These Foolish Things.

The five shortlisted novels in 2013 are:

  • Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson - the tale of Guy Ableman, a writer in torment, both over his affections for both his wife and mother-in-law, and the terminal state of literature.
  • Skios by Michael Frayn - longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012, Skios is a farce about a case of mistaken identity, which plays out on the fictional Greek island of the title.
  • England's Lane by Joseph Connolly - a "darkly humorous" (Time Out) account of three couples who own shops on a street in north London in the late 1950s and the secrets hidden behind their shop fronts.
  • Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach - from the author whose novel These Foolish Things was adapted into The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this is the story of an old actor who inherits a Welsh guesthouse.
  • Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt - an "uproariously funny" (Wall Street Journal) tale following failing salesman Joe as he launches a plan to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace.

Now in its 14th year, the prize will be judged by Everyman's Library publisher David Campbell, Hay Festival director Peter Florence and broadcaster and author Jim Naughtie,

"This is one of the strongest shortlists I have seen - all five novels are truly brilliantly funny," Campbell said.

Previous winners include Terry Pratchett for Snuff (2012), Ian McEwan for Solar (2010), Paul Torday for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2007) and DBC Pierre for Vernon God Little (2003).

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