Debut novelist wins Booker Prize

First-time novelist DBC Pierre has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his black comedy Vernon God Little.

A reformed drug addict, Pierre - whose real name is Peter Finlay - was praised for capturing the world's abiding interest in modern America in his novel about a high school massacre in Texas.

Pierre, 42, becomes the third Australian to win the prize in its 35th year after Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally. He walks away with a cheque for £50,000 and the prospect of a huge increase in sales around the world.

The financial boost could help Pierre pay back some of the vast debts he has accrued during his murky past.

In an interview last weekend with The Guardian, Pierre - whose pen name initials stand for Dirty But Clean - admitted on one occasion to selling a friend's house and pocketing the money.

He said: "I let some very fine people, who believed in me, down. I thought that if the book worked I could start to quietly pay some of them back."

The chairman of the judges, Professor John Carey, praised Pierre's novel as "a coruscating black comedy reflecting our alarm but also our fascination with modern America".

The book is a darkly comic tale about a Texan teenager who lies his way into trouble and is put on trial for a Columbine-style mass killing at his school.

The five-strong judging panel met for the last time today to decide the winner after reading more than 100 books.

Pierre was one of three debut novelists to make it on to this year's shortlist.

  • Monica Ali's highly rated first novel Brick Lane was the bookies favourite to win.

    The other contenders were Oryx And Crake by Margaret Atwood, Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller, The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut and Astonishing Splashes Of Colour by Clare Morrall.

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