Cows Can’t Jump. Philip Bowne (Neem Tree Press 2020)

We are immensely pleased to highlight Philip Bowne’s debut, which is launching in September. Back in 2018, when he won the Spotlight First Novel Competition, his pages jumped out, with their youthful exuberance and irreverent wit, and are memorable even now. This is a fresh take on the classic rite-of-passage, an explosive coming-of-age odyssey in the mould of The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi and Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin.

Eighteen-year-old Billy is desperate to escape middle England. He’s working the ultimate dead-end job as a grave-digger, his grandad’s engaged to a West Indian woman half his age, his xenophobic dad’s obsessed with boxing; and his mum’s certainly having an affair. Celebrities keep dying and Britain awaits the EU referendum. But then meeting the enigmatic Eva changes everything.

The novel explores the borders and barriers between people: the lines we blur and cross, the things we will and won’t do, the places we will and won’t go, both physically and emotionally. But there’s a lighter side to the book too

Philip Bowne on Spotlight :

“I was in a strange place with my debut novel, when it was announced as the Winner of the Spotlight First Novel Prize. I remember receiving the e-mail in the cellar at the bar I used to manage, close to London Bridge. At the time I was halfway through cleaning the beer lines. I dropped the hose I was holding and jumped around the cellar, between the empty kegs, celebrating on my own as the hose wriggled around on the floor, squirting water up in the air.   

At this point, I’d had the novel out on submission for a little while, but I wasn’t getting very far. I’d had some interest. A few false starts. But by the time I was shortlisted for Spotlight, everything that had at first seemed promising had fallen through. I’d lost all confidence and a lot of the hope I’d had at the start of my submissions process. The Spotlight prize came at the perfect time for me. It felt amazing to know someone had seen some potential in my work, to know I hadn’t wasted all that time writing the novel.”   

Spotlight First Novel Competition is aimed at writers in the sometimes tricky limbo prior to publication. As part of the award, Philip won a full Stage-One mentoring package.   

“I was assigned the kind, generous, talented writer Ray Robinson as my personal mentor. Ray provided me with all the necessary tools to get back on my feet with the book. His detailed, direct, honest feedback helped me to take the writing up a notch. He made me realise I’d missed opportunities to raise the stakes at various points. He fixed a few scenes that meandered. He made me think about how I use description in relation to the senses. Above all, he was kind and constructive. I learnt so much from him.”  

If you like your fiction, youthful, irreverent and topical this is the novel for you. Cows Can’t Jump is already attracting press interest.

Cows Can’t Jump is published by Neem Tree Press, an exciting new publisher with a global appeal

Available for pre-order now.

Read more about Philip Bowne, Cows Can’t Jump and the Spotlight process here.
















































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