Alexander McCall Smith has won this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party, published by Birlinn imprint Polygon.
This is the first time McCall Smith, the author of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series published by Little, Brown, has appeared on the comic fiction prize shortlist. He beat off competition from Caitlin Moran, Irvine Welsh, Nina Stibbe, Helen Lederer and Joseph O’Neill.
Following his win, McCall Smith will be presented with a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, which will be named after his winning novel. He will also receive a jeroboam of Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and the complete Everyman Wodehouse Collection.
Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party follows larger than life American Cornelius P “Fatty” O’Leary and his doting wife as they embark on the trip of a lifetime to Ireland from the States. Almost immediately, things go terribly wrong for the hapless couple: the plane seats in economy class are far too small, Irish bathroom furniture proves not as commodious as they’d have liked and all the time Fatty must put up with the unthinking cruelty of strangers.
McCall Smith said of his win: “I am greatly honoured to be awarded the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. I very much enjoyed writing that book and if there are those who are enjoying reading it, then I am content. I am also content with the jeroboam of champagne, the 52 Wodehouse novels, and the pig that go with this award. That is what I would call a very well-balanced prize.”
Broadcaster and author James Naughtie, who was one the prize judges, added: “It's right and proper to couple the names of Alexander McCall Smith and P G Wodehouse. No writer in recent times has been a more prolific dispenser of wit. He makes people laugh out loud and, like everyone who understands the absurdities of life, he understands sadness too.”
Naughtie was joined on the judging panel for the 2015 prize by Everyman’s Library publisher, David Campbell, and director of the Hay Festival, Peter Florence. Previous prize winners include 2014 winner Edward St Aubyn, Howard Jacobson and the late Sir Terry Pratchett.
The prize-giving ceremony will be held on Tuesday 26th May at the Hay Festival, ahead of an event at 5.30pm that afternoon when McCall Smith will be in conversation with SJ Parris.