Gail Honeyman, A J Pearce and Gill Sims are some of the authors longlisted for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize with HarperCollins taking five of the 12 nominated titles.
Honeyman’s bestselling Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is nominated in the published writers’ category, along with Sims’ Why Mummy Swears and One in a Million by Kelk. Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is also in the running along with Zara Stoneley’s The Wedding Date (HarperImpulse).
Dear Mrs Bird (Picador) by Pearce is flying the Pan Macmillan flag while the sole entry from Penguin Random House comes through Jane Fallon’s Faking Friends. Orion has two nods with Lucy Vine’s Hot Mess and Forging On by Catherine Robinson. Killing It (Bonnier Zaffre) by Asia Mackay is also nominated while The Exact Opposite of Okay (Egmont/ Electric Monkey) by Laura Steven is the only YA novel on the list. The only indie entry comes from Olga Wojta’s Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar (Contraband/Saraband).
The CWIP Prize was launched by actress, author and stand-up Helen Lederer in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing and to celebrate talent in this area. It is split across two categories, for published and unpublished writers.
The award followed the cancellation of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize last May, after judges said no entry made them "laugh out loud", a decision which was subsequently criticised by author Marian Keyes, who is now a judge of CWIP.
A partnership with HarperFiction was announced in December for the unpublished writers category, which also includes 12 shortlisted entries listed on the prize website. The unpublished winner will receive a contract and £5,000 advance with HarperFiction while the runner-up will receive a free place on the MA course in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. The 12 longlisted entrants in this category can be viewed on the prize website.
The winning author in the published category will be offered a £2,000 cash award, with £250 for each shortlisted writer.
Along with Keyes, the judges for published authors include comedians Katy Brand and Shazia Mirza, as well as writers Kathy Lette and Allison Pearson.
Lederer said: “It’s overwhelming to see how much interest and support there is for CWIP - ably demonstrated by the high quality of wit in our first longlist – easy proof this award was needed and that witty women authors are alive, well and writing. Laughing can be as baffling as it is thrilling, but we salute anyone who can make us do that with words on the page.”
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