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Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 Shortlists Announced

The Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP), set up by Helen Lederer last year, today (Monday 8th June) revealed the shortlists for the UK and Ireland’s only awards to shine a light on funny writing by women. In all three categories – for Published Comic Novel, Unpublished Comic Novel and Humorous Graphic Novel – the shortlisted stories demonstrate the unique way humour can tackle hard-hitting subjects such as mental health, addiction and gender discrimination.

Three panels of star judges from the worlds of comedy and literature, including bestselling author Marian Keyes, BAFTA-winner Joanna Scanlan, comedians Lolly Adefope and Jen Brister, looked for excellent writing but, above all, humour. They found it in their final shortlists from bestselling authors, creative writing students and experienced TV producers.

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Published Comic Novels, judged by Lolly Adefope, Emma Kennedy, Marian Keyes, Pauline McLynn, Joanna Scanlan and Laura Steven, is:

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: the critical and commercial hit of the past year is a darkly comic take on life, love and family for a young black British woman. (Trapeze).
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen: a woman’s predictable life with an alcoholic mother is suddenly shattered, from a funny and exciting new voice in Irish literature (John Murray).
  • The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa: a razor-sharp social satire on men, mental health and money in today’s Johannesburg from an acclaimed South African author (Bloomsbury).
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary: a bestselling debut about unconventional living arrangements for London millennials (Quercus).
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe: the third novel of the semi-autobiographical trilogy sees teenager Lizzie longing to get away from her troubled mother (Penguin Random House).
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: a millennial who works in a bookshop starts a new chapter in life when the father she never knew dies, in this story by an LA-based ghost-writer (Headline).
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson CBE: inspired by Shelley’s Gothic classic, this author makes a rare appearance on a comedy shortlist with her laugh-out-loud set pieces about sex dolls, the bodies we live in and our desires (Jonathan Cape).

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Published Humorous Graphic Novels, new this year, judged by Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Jen Brister, Janet Ellis, Dr Nicola Streeten and Paula Wilcox, is:

  • Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide- A graphic guide to lesbian and queer history 1950-2020 by Kate Charlesworth: a glorious pageant of LGBTQI+ history which was an Observer Graphic Novel of the Year (Myriad Editions).
  • My Husband is a Cultist by Mei Lian Hoe: an offbeat romantic comedy about a florist married to a Warlock (Self-published).
  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern: Georgette Heyer meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Simon & Schuster).
  • Was it… Too Much for You? by Danny Noble: a world of nudity and slapstick surrealism inspired by Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Women in Love (Self-published).
  • Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds: a reclusive art dealer and fraudster faces difficult life choices, from the doyenne of comics (Jonathan Cape).
  • Stand in Your Power by Rachael Smith: a collection of auto-bio comics focusing on breakups, dating, depression, and love (Self-published).

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 shortlist for Unpublished Comic Novels, judged by Yomi Adegoke, Fanny Blake, Kate Bradley, Grace Campbell; Kirsty Eyre; and Dr Jennifer Young, is:

  • The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri: The laugh-out-loud adventures of a singleton who turns to a robot boyfriend and therapy to heal past traumas, by stand-up comedian Barri.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann: A wacky, comic spy thriller in which a middle-aged housewife is recalled to her secret life, by writer and performer Brann.
  • Everything Is Under Control by Annette Gordon: Growing up in the shadow of her rich and beautiful sister, Carina, musician Zelda must learn to lose control if she’s to find love, by TV producer and director Gordon.
  • The Lady’s Companion by Janey Preger: the romantic adventures of an aristocratic editor, her dear friend and the night-club-dancer she hires, by screenwriter Preger.
  • You Can Drop Me Here by Julia Walter: a forty-something divorcee has an unlikely romance with a man who lives in a van, from Curtis Brown Creative graduate Walter.
  • Second Wife Syndrome by Kathleen Whyman: With increasingly hilarious results, Marie has to take action when her husband’s attention seems more focused on his first family than on her and their daughter, by freelance journalist Whyman.

The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). For the unpublished category, recognising rising comic talent, the winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. An unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. An additional runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University – the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category winner will also receive a cash prize, to be announced.