Nina Stibbe’s Reasons To Be Cheerful has won this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.
The third and final entry in her semi-autobiographical trilogy clinched the prize after she had previously been shortlisted in 2015 with Man At The Helm and again in 2017 for Paradise Lodge.
Two rare breed pigs are to be named Reasons and Cheerful after the winning novel and presented to the author at Hay Festival.
Because the prize was withheld in 2018 after the entries failed to make the panel unanimously laugh out loud, Stibbe also wins a Methuselah bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvee alongside a case of the champagne.
She joins 19 previous winners including Helen Fielding, Howard Jacobson, Marina Lewycka, Terry Pratchett, Hannah Rothschild and Will Self – all deemed to have captured the comic spirit of the late PG Wodehouse.
Reasons To Be Cheerful (Viking, Penguin Random House), set in 1980, follows 18-year-old Lizzie Vogel moving away from her family home and into Leicester to become a dental nurse.
Six novels were shortlisted for the prize, with authors Jen Beagin, Kate Davies, Roddy Doyle, Lissa Evans and Paul Ewen also competing.
The Leicester-born winner said: “I have always wanted a pig – my own Empress of Blandings – and now I shall have two.
“I’m overjoyed to have been awarded the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.
“To win against such talented competition, to be honoured with the pigs and to go home with a family-sized bottle of Bolly and the complete works of Wodehouse is a dream come true for any writer.”
David Campbell, judge and publisher of Everyman’s Library, said: “With Reasons To Be Cheerful Nina Stibbe has written a comic tour de force.
“We withheld the prize in 2018 and so were eager to find a book this year that would make each of the judges laugh out loud.
“Nina Stibbe has achieved that with aplomb. Reasons To Be Cheerful is a moving and funny pitch-perfect romp that takes us back to the 1980s, which serves as a fitting tribute to the inimitable PG Wodehouse.”
Mr Campbell was joined on the judging panel by musical comedian and improviser Pippa Evans, comedian Sindhu Vee, broadcaster and author James Naughtie and Justin Albert, vice president of the Hay Festival and director of National Trust Wales.