Australian first-time novelist and DBC Pierre, has won the Booker Prize, Britain's most famous literary award, for his debut novel Vernon God Little.

Pierre, 42, who lives in Ireland, headed a shortlist of six writers to win the annual contemporary fiction award and 71,000 euro or $79,500 dollar prize.

His book is a darkly comic tale of a Texan teenager put on trial for a high school massacre.

Pierre, whose real name is Peter Finlay, has his own dark past and recently admitted spending nine years in a drug-induced "haze".


Bookmakers were taken by surprise - they had tipped Brick Lane by Bangladeshi-born Londoner Monica Ali

Pierre - whose pen name initials stand for Dirty But Clean -has also admitted to selling a friend's house and pocketing the money.

Brick Lane

He was born in Australia in 1961 and grew up in Mexico as part of a wealthy family.

Pierre becomes the third Australian to win the prize, now in its 35th year, after Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally.

Pierre's victory came as a surprise as bookmakers had tipped Bangladeshi-born Londoner Monica Ali and her first novel Brick Lane for the title.

The initial Booker list of 117 novels, which must be from Commonwealth countries or Ireland, was whittled down to 23 by mid-August, then to six last month.

A five-strong judging panel decided the winner, announced at a gala dinner in the British Museum in London on Tuesday.

Last year's award went to Canadian Yann Martel for Life of Pi.