Unknown makes the Bollinger shortlist
WHILE THE SHORTLIST for this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction is packed with famous writers – Terry Pratchett and Jilly Cooper among them – there is one author on the list who is a complete unknown. Robert Lewis, author of The Last Llanelli Train (Serpent’s Tail), is a 26-year-old first novelist whose debut title features a shambolic, alcoholic private eye.
Lewis may be young, but he’s already accumulated plenty of life experience. Originally from the Brecon Beacons, he describes himself as having been “a silver service waiter, painter, secretary, salesman, banker, web editor, yardcat [a form of night-watchman], high-voltage cabler, housing officer, mailboy, audit junior, welder’s assistant, and unemployed”. He’s now graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (where he now lives) as an English Literature mature student. His second book, Swansea Terminal, will be published next year, and he currently works as a journalist on trade paper In Business. “I made a new year’s resolution to stop working in accounts departments and that kind of thing,” he said.
Pete Ayrton, owner and MD of Serpent’s Tail, said: “It’s a darkly funny book. There’s a tradition in noir of gallows humour, and Robert Lewis has got that in trumps. It’s quite a feat to make what could be seen as a pretty depressing plot – the main character’s a complete failure – into something extremely funny.” The book was bought from Antony Topping at Greene & Heaton.
The other shortlisted titles are: Thud by Terry Pratchett and May Contain Nuts by John O’Farrell (both Doubleday); Wicked by Jilly Cooper (Bantam); All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye (Abacus) by Christopher Brookmyre; and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (Hamish Hamilton). The winner will be announced at the Hay Festival on 4 June, and will be given a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, and a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after the winning book.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I love this story from PN Online. It gives me hope, but I'm so jealous of the prize. Imagine having a pig named after your book!:
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