Matthew Dooley has won the 2020 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction with his graphic novel Flake (Jonathan Cape).
Flake is the first graphic novel to win the prize in its 20-year history.
Set in a small seaside town of Dobbiston, Flake tells the story of ice-cream seller Howard. Noticing a downturn in trade, Howard soon realises its cause: Tony Augustus, his half-brother, whose ice-cream empire is expanding all over the North-West. What ensues is a battle between them, with Howard – helped by the Dobbiston Mountain Rescue team – overcoming every obstacle in the process, and ultimately triumphing in the end.
Judge Sindu Vee described the winning graphic novel as "a rare joy: a laugh out loud story with characters you want to meet again and again".
Dooley commented: "Flake was published on 2nd April, amidst a huge, bewildering global crisis. It’s been a very strange experience. Winning the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize means it’s just got stranger in the best possible way. I’m surprised, overwhelmed and elated to have won."
Matthew Dooley will be awarded a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, and a complete set of the Everyman’s Library P G Wodehouse collection. The award is normally presented at the Hay Festival, which was cancelled this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
David Campbell, judge and publisher of Everyman’s Library, commented: "This year’s shortlist was especially strong with a number of very credible potential winners. We had none of us, I think, expected a graphic novel to win, but we were all captivated by Flake."
Six titles appeared on this year's shortlist including Jenny Offill's Weather (Granta) and House of Trelawney (Bloomsbury) by 2016 winner Hannah Rothschild.
Past winners include Helen Fielding (2017), Terry Pratchett (2012) and Howard Jacobson, who took home the inaugural prize in 2000 for The Mighty Waltzer and another in 2013 with Zoo Time.