Hannah Rothschild and Paul Murray have won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction – the first time in the prize’s history it has been awarded to two people.
“Two biting satires”, The Mark and the Void by Murray (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin) and The Improbability of Love by Rothschild (Bloomsbury) have bagged the prize, winning a jeroboam of Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and the complete Everyman Wodehouse Collection, now complete at 99 titles, to mark their victories. The authors will also be presented with a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig - named after winning novels - at the Hay Festival on Saturday 4th June.
Rothschild’s debut is about a lost masterpiece by an influential 18th century French painter, Antoine Watteau, and has also been shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction.
Murray’s third novel tells the story of two Dubliners: Claude, a banker who decides to rob his own bank and struggling novelist and crook, Paul, who helps him do it.
Rothschild said: “To use a word that my hero PG Wodehouse invented, I am terribly ‘gruntled’ by winning this prize; sharing it with the great Paul Murray; and by the prospect of drinking Bollinger while reading an Everyman Classic.”
Murray added: “I'm delighted and honoured. I first read PG Wodehouse as a boy and have kept returning to him ever since, longer than any other writer - which makes this award very special.”
The two authors beat off competition from former Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse winner The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka (Fig Tree, Penguin Random House) and There's Only Two David Beckhams by John O'Farrell (Black Swan, Transworld) to win the prize.
The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize recognises the best comic novel of the last twelve months. Previous winners include Alexander McCall Smith, Howard Jacobson and the late Sir Terry Pratchett.