Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones’s Baby (Jonathan Cape), which tells of our heroine's struggle to discover the identity of her baby's father, bags the author her third shortlisting for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.
Penguin Random House dominates the six-strong shortlist, which also features James Robertson's To Be Continued… (Hamish Hamilton), about Douglas Findhorn Elder who meets a talking toad on his 50th birthday and embarks on an unexpected Highland adventure, and Nina Stibbe's Paradise Lodge (Viking), about a 15-year-old's adventures while working in a care home.
From other publishers, Carl Hiaasen is up for "fast-paced satirical crime novel set in Florida", Razor Girl (Sphere), while Richard Russo is up for Rust Belt-set madcap romp Everybody’s Fool (Allen & Unwin). Finally Simon Wroe is shortlisted for his "biting political satire" Here Comes Trouble (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) set in a secretive nation, Kyrzbekistan.
As the UK’s only prize devoted to comic fiction, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize recognises the best comic novel of the last 12 months. Past winners have included Edward St Aubyn, Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan and Sir Terry Pratchett.
The shortlist was chosen at the family run house of Champagne Bollinger in Ay, France, by the panel of judges including broadcaster James Naughtie, Everyman’s Library publisher David Campbell, and the Hay Festival’s vice president - and director of National Trust Wales - Justin Albert. Campbell said: “We are tremendously happy with the shortlist. There is an eclectic mix of brilliant novels with one thing in common… they all made us laugh."
The winner will be announced just ahead of the Hay Festival. They will receive a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and the complete set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection. They will also be presented with a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, which will be named after the winning novel.
Last year Hannah Rothschild and Paul Murray both won the prize,the first time in its history it has been awarded to two people for The Mark and the Void by Murray (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin) and The Improbability of Love by Rothschild (Bloomsbury).