Author Guy Kennaway Wins the 2021 Bollinger Prize

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The 22nd winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, Guy Kennaway is also known for ‘One People’ and ‘Time To Go.’

Guy Kennaway at his home in Jamaica, surrounded by his winnings: a Jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, a complete set of the Everyman’s Library P.G. Wodehouse collection, and a pig–who has been named The Accidental Collector after the winning title. Perhaps a nickname will follow. Image: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Kennaway: ‘Books, Fine Champagne, Laughter, and Pigs’
Typically our only chance each year to include a photo of an attractive pig in an article here at Publishing Perspectives, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction has announced today (July 8) that Guy Kennaway has won its 2021 honor, becoming the 22nd laureate of the program for The Accidental Collector (Mensch Publishing, March 2021).

Mensch Publishing, of course, is the independent press created and run by Publishing Perspectives columnist Richard Charkin.

This is the prize that has a title so long that you cannot say it after a glass or two of the Bollinger. Its key criterion is that a book must make the jurors “laugh out loud.” True to its standards, the program withheld its award in 2018 for the express reason that nothing submitted produced that kind of laugh for the jury.

That jury this year comprised:

  • Justin Albert, vice-president of the Hay Festival and director of National Trust Wales
  • David Campbell, publisher, Everyman’s Library
  • Daliso Chaponda, comedian
  • Pippa Evans, musical comedian and improviser
  • James Naughtie, broadcaster and author
  • Sindhu Vee, comedian

The Bollinger Everyman shortlist this year, in addition to Kennaway’s book:

  • Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (Penguin Books)
  • Naji Bakhti’s Between Beirut and the Moon (Influx Press)
  • Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu (Bloomsbury)
  • Hilary Leichter’s Temporary (Faber & Faber)
  • Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts (HarperCollins)

In learning of his win, Kennaway is quoted, saying, “I want to congratulate my fellow shortlisted authors and thank them for a fair fight. I believe only two of you remain in hospital.

“I read your books and hated them all, because they were so charming and funny. I’ve always wanted to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. It combines a number of my passions: good books, fine champagne, laughter, and pigs. I’m never more at home than with a coupe of Bollinger in one hand, a pork pie in the other, and a smile on my face.”

Kennaway is a London native who writes nonfiction as well as fiction.

Juror David Campbell said, “The Accidental Collector is an outrageous send-up of the contemporary art world. It’s perceptive, hugely entertaining, and full of surprises: it proved the perfect lockdown read. The shortlist in our 21st year for the prize was a vintage one, but over a few glasses of Bollinger the judges agreed that Guy’s book was the one that continually made us laugh and it emerged the winner.”

Past Winners of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize
  • Howard Jacobson for The Mighty Waltzer (2000)
  • Jonathan Coe for The Rotter’s Club (2001)
  • Michael Frayn for Spies (2002)
  • DBC Pierre for Vernon God Little (2003)
  • Jasper Fforde for The Well of Lost Plots (2004)
  • Marina Lewycka for A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005)
  • Christopher Brookmyre for All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2006)
  • Paul Torday for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2007)
  • Will Self for The Butt (2008)
  • Geoff Dyer for Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (2009)
  • Ian McEwan for Solar (2010)
  • Gary Shteyngart for Super Sad True Love Story (2011)
  • Terry Pratchett for Snuff (2012)
  • Howard Jacobson for Zoo Time (2013)
  • Edward St Aubyn for Lost For Words (2014)
  • Alexander McCall Smith for Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party (2015)
  • Hannah Rothschild for The Improbability of Love & Paul Murray for The Mark and the Void (2016)
  • Helen Fielding for Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries (2017)
  • Prize withheld (2018)
  • Nina Stibbe for Reasons to be Cheerful (2019)

More from us on publishing and book awards in general is here, and more coverage of the British market is here, with more on the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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