Cows Can’t Jump. Philip Bowne

Billy’s stuck. He’s eighteen and earning a living digging graves. His chance to escape comes when he meets Eva, an enigmatic Swiss girl. As he chases her across Europe, his journey involves hitch-hiking with truckers, walking with refugees, and assisting the birth of a calf. But the further he goes, the harder it is to be sure what he’s chasing – and what he’s running from. 

Philip Bowne graduated in 2015 with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire. In 2016, Cows Can’t Jump won the university Novel Writing Prize and was one of three books chosen to be read at literary event Novel London. His short fiction has been published in the UK, US and Canada, and he has written travel pieces for Endsleigh and The Guardian. In 2016 he worked as a volunteer in the Calais ‘jungle’ refugee camp.

Philip’s first page


From the opening line onwards, Cows Can’t Jump leapt out for its boldness, confidence and humour. Philip is a gifted and perceptive writer with a fine eye for detail, dialogue and characterisation. “There is much to enjoy in the laugh out loud humour and stiletto-sharp wit, Billy’s teenage awkwardness and the array of characters he meets on his odyssey across Europe. There are flashes of emotional acuity throughout the book that kept me enthralled.” In mentoring Phil, Ray Robinson’s aim was to set out a context and to bring in a sense of the reader’s perspective. The mentoring process looked at ways of fine tuning the manuscript and pulling out its full potential. It is no surprise that Cows Can’t Jump has already attracted interest.

Philip Bowne’s mentor was Ray Robinson.

Philip’s Feedback “I found the mentoring process to be much more thorough than I expected. I feel very lucky to have worked with Ray. He read the book quickly and with a particular focus on pulling out and shaping the later sections in the novel. His outlook was refreshing and provided me with a new determination to make it as sharp as I could. He also provided excellent advice on the submissions process, and the manuscript has since attracted the interest of a literary agent. I’m delighted to have won the Spotlight competition, and I’m very grateful to Marion and Ray for all their help.”

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