Finlay, Peter (Warren) 1961-
FINLAY, Peter (Warren) 1961-
(D. B. C. Pierre)
PERSONAL: Born June, 1961, in Reynella, South Australia, Australia; immigrated to Mexico, then to England, then to Ireland; son of a geneticist.
ADDRESSES: Home—County Leitrim, Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Faber & Faber Ltd., 3 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AU, England.
CAREER: Cartoonist, graphic designer, photographer, filmmaker, and writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing, and Booker Prize, both 2003, and Whitbread Award for first novel, 2004, all for Vernon God Little.
(As D. B. C. Pierre) Vernon God Little: A Twenty-first-Century Comedy in the Presence of Death, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about immigration and globalization.
SIDELIGHTS: Peter Finlay, better known by his pseudonym D. B. C. ("Dirty, but Clean") Pierre, went from obscurity to fame in a matter of weeks when his debut novel, Vernon God Little: A Twenty-first-Century Comedy in the Presence of Death, won two of Britain's most prestigious literary prizes in 2003. This novel, a satire on lowbrow American culture, is "a book that tackles big themes head-on—Columbine-style slayings, capital punishment, blame culture and the power of the media," Sean O'Hagan wrote in the London Observer, but it is also "one of the most scabrously funny satires this side of a vintage episode of South Park."
The book's protagonist, Vernon Gordon Little, is a poor teenager in a small Texas town. His only friend is another misfit, Jesus Navarro, until Jesus shoots sixteen of their classmates and then himself. The town desperately needs a "skate-goat," as Vernon refers to it, and Vernon is the obvious choice. He attempts to escape to Mexico, but instead finds himself in a bizarre reality-show death row where viewers get to vote on who should be the first to be executed. "Of course it's ludicrous," David Robson wrote of the televised death row in the Telegraph Online, but the book is "so compulsively written, so sure-footed in its satire, that such a situation [feels] entirely rational, the natural outcome" of what has come before.
Finlay's use of language in his first-person narrative has been widely remarked upon by critics. Vernon's speech is full of curses and malapropisms, but also of vivid imagery: crying women "howling pizza-cheese bungees of spit"; Vernon running "like a knot of melted clowns." Vernon God Little is "a showcase of superb comic writing, every sentence turned with loving care," Robson wrote, while Independent reviewer Marianne Brace commented that Pierre's "language backflips off the page."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), October 17, 2003, John Stapleton, profile of Finlay, p. 3.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), January 11, 2003, Jasper Rees, interview with Finlay, p. 8; June 21, 2003, "D.B.C. Pierre on the Books That Inspired Him as a Child."
Daily Telegraph (Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia), September 18, 2003, Paul Mulvey, "Pierre's Long, Dirty Road to Clean Up the Booker," p. 27; October 16, 2003, Harcharan Chandhoke, "Aussie Conman Wins Booker," p. 15.
Entertainment Weekly, September 26, 2003, Noah Robischon, review of Vernon God Little, p. 97.
Guardian (London, England), January 18, 2003, Carrie O'Grady, review of Vernon God Little; January 19, 2003, Jonathan Heawood, review of Vernon God Little; May 27, 2003, Michelle Pauli, review of Vernon God Little; October 11, 2003, Fiachra Gibbons, "Unmasked: The Murky Past of Booker Author," p. 1; October 16, 2003, Emma Brockes, interview with Finlay, p. 8.
Independent (London, England), February 3, 2003, Marianne Brace, review of Vernon God Little, p. 13.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2003, review of Vernon God Little, p. 987.
New York Times, October 15, 2003, Sarah Lyall, "Australian Man Wins Booker Prize for Novel He Sees as a Form of Atonement"; October 16, 2003, Sarah Lyall, "Drugs and Deceit Lead to Writing as Redemption."
Observer (London, England), January 19, 2003, Sean O'Hagan, interview with Finlay, p. 17.
Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland), January 5, 2003, Julie Wheelwright, interview with Finlay, p. 6.
Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), October 15, 2003, David Robinson, review of Vernon God Little, p. 2.
Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), February 16, 2003, Colin Waters, review of Vernon God Little, p. 11.
Sunday Times (London, England), February 23, 2003, Hugo Barnacle, review of Vernon God Little, p. 44.
Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), March 15, 2003, Andrew Laing, review of Vernon God Little.
Times (London, England), October 15, 2003, Dalya Alberge, "Regrets? I've More Than a Few, Says Booker Winner," p. 1, Dalya Alberge and Chris Johnston, "Booker Winner Gets a Little Help with His Debts," p. 5.
Associated Press Web Site,http://customwire.ap.org/ (October 15, 2003), Audrey Woods, "D.B.C. Pierre Wins Booker Prize."
CNN.com,http://www.cnn.com/ (October 15, 2003), "Author with Murky Past Wins Booker."
Scotsman.com,http://www.scotsman.com/ (October 25, 2003), Lindesay Irvine, review of Vernon God Little.
Telegraph Online,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ (February 23, 2003), David Robson, review of Vernon God Little.
Times of India Online,http://www.timesofindia.com/ (October 15, 2003), Rashmee Z. Ahmen, "And the Booker Goes to … Drugs, Booze, and Theft."*a