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Michelle Gallen's Big Girl, Small Town in running for top female comedy writing accolade

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Michelle Gallen

Michelle Gallen

Michelle Gallen

A Co Tyrone author has been longlisted for a top literary award that recognises work by comic female writers.

Michelle Gallen's first novel, Big Girl, Small Town, is in line for The Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP).

The only prize in the UK and Ireland to shine a light on work by funny women, the second annual longlist also features bestsellers including Candice Carty-Williams, Sophie Kinsella and Dawn O'Porter.

The awards are split into three categories: published comic novels, published humorous graphic novels and unpublished comic novels. Each list has 15, 12 and 12 novels longlisted respectively, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on September 14.

Castlederg's Gallen is among those nominated in the published comic novels group of the 2020 literary awards.

Described as "Milkman meets Derry Girls", the novel, which was only released in February, is a black comedy about a young woman's life in a small town here in the aftermath of the Troubles.

Her humour - often raucous, sometimes dark - introduces in Majella, the narrator of the story who works in a chippy called A Salt And Battered, and is forced to change her unique opinions about life after tragedy strikes her family.

Bestselling author Marian Keyes is chair of judges for this year's CWIP prize for published novels.

The judging panel also includes Bafta-winning writer and actress Joanna Scanlan; writers and actresses Emma Kennedy and Pauline McLynn; comedian and actress Lolly Adefope, and Laura Steven, winner of CWIP's inaugural published prize for The Exact Opposite Of Okay.

Keyes said: "I am absolutely delighted with our longlist.

"The range is glorious, everything from light-hearted commercial fiction to literary fiction, it's a demonstration of all the different ways in which women can be funny in print.

"It was a pleasure and very exciting to read all 90 submissions, and this is a list that I'm very proud of."

The CWIP published winner will receive a cash prize of £3,000 from the Author's Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), while the winner of the unpublished prize will receive a publishing contract and a £5,000 advance from HarperFiction.

The unpublished runner-up also receives £2,000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing.

The CWIP Prize was launched last year by actress, author and stand-up comedian Helen Lederer in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing, and as a way of celebrating fresh and established talent.

Lederer said: "I'm relieved the longlisted titles reflect both anti-snobbery and a huge respect for literary wit.

"A new but necessary punctuation mark highlighting the visibility of women's wit on the page."

Belfast Telegraph