Bob Mortimer wins Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for his ‘mischievous’ debut novel | Books

A pig will be named after Bob Mortimer’s debut novel, The Satsuma Complex, as the comedian’s book has been announced as the winner this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.

The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer.
The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer.

Mortimer, who found fame as one half of Reeves and Mortimer alongside Vic Reeves, said he was “really chuffed” to have won the award. “I still have no idea if I can actually write but this award gives me fresh hope,” he added.

The Satsuma Complex tells the story of legal assistant Gary Thorn, who goes for a pint with a work acquaintance, Brendan, who has to leave early. Gary then meets a girl in the pub; he falls for her, but she suddenly disappears. Gary did not catch her name, and only remembers her by the book she was reading, The Satsuma Complex. When Brendan goes missing, Gary decides to track down the girl.

Mortimer “approaches the world with a sly, mischievous smile”, said judging chair and Hay festival founder Peter Florence. “I guess this is what happens when you turn a brilliant, oblique comedic attention to life. The language and the tone tip your perception all the time, and he has this strange ability to keep the reader on the very brink of guffawing for whole chapters at a time.

“You get to love all these characters, the good ones and the bad ones and the very bad ones. And you’ll start talking to squirrels. And then you’ll have to think around what that’s achieving for you.”

The award seeks to recognise the funniest new novels that best evoke the spirit of PG Wodehouse’s witty characters and comic timing. Along with the pig (which will continue to live at Oaklands Farm in east Sussex), Mortimer will also win a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and the complete set of the Everyman’s Library PG Wodehouse collection.

Other novels shortlisted for the award were Darling by India Knight, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham, Mother Hens by Sophie McCartney, Murder at Crime Manor by Fergus Craig and Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors by Aravind Jayan.

Alongside Florence on this year’s judging panel were comedians Pippa Evans and Sindhu Vee, Everyman’s Library publisher David Campbell, broadcaster James Naughtie and Hay festival vice-president Justin Albert.

Previous winners have included Jonathan Coe, Helen Fielding and Terry Pratchett. Last year, Percival Everett won the prize for his novel The Trees.