Guy Kennaway has won the 2021 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for his artworld satire The Accidental Collector (Mensch Publishing).
Kennaway was awarded the prize at his home in Jamaica. As is tradition for the award, he was presented with a pig, newly named The Accidental Collector after his winning book. He also receives a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, and the complete set of the Everyman's Library P G Wodehouse collection.
The Accidental Collector is a comedy about the contemporary art world, interweaving the stories of super-dealer Herman Gertsch and that of John 'Brother' Burn, a penniless hippy in South Somerset.
Kennaway said: “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 have always wanted to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. It combines a number of my passions: good books, fine champagne, laughter and pigs. I am 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.”
The book saw off stiff competition from five other shortlisted novels, four of which were debuts. It featured Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (Penguin Books), Naji Bakhti’s Between Beirut and the Moon (Influx Press), Hilary Leichter’s Temporary (Faber), Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts (HarperCollins) and Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu (Bloomsbury).
The judging panel included: Justin Albert, vice-president of Hay Festival and director of the National Trust Wales; David Campbell, publisher of Everyman’s Library; comedians Daliso Chaponda, Pippa Evans and Sindhu Vee; as well as broadcaster and author James Naughtie.
This year’s shortlist and winner was chosen over a “lively judging lunch at the Goring Hotel, aided by a few glasses of Champagne Bollinger”, organisers said.
"The Accidental Collector is an outrageous send up of the contemporary art world," Campbell said. "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."
Victoria Carfantan, director of Champagne Bollinger UK, added: “In Guy Kennaway’s The Accidental Collector, the judges have picked the perfect book to read with a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvée, as you escape to his hilarious interpretation of the world of contemporary art and enjoy numerous laugh out loud moments. We were delighted to present Guy with his piggy prize in a stunning Jamaican setting and we look forward to celebrating with him in person.”
Last year’s prize went to Flake (Jonathan Cape) by Matthew Dooley.
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