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Old Reynella, South Australia
|Pen name||DBC Pierre|
|Genres||Satire, dark comedy, allegory|
|Notable work(s)||Vernon God Little|
He was born in South Australia in 1961, before moving to Mexico, where Pierre was largely raised. He now[when?] resides in the Republic of Ireland.
Pierre was awarded the 2003 Booker Prize for fiction for Vernon God Little, his first novel, becoming the third Australian-born author to be so honoured. Upon winning the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2003 he became the first writer to receive a Booker and a Whitbread for the same book. The book also won the Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman Prize for comic literature at the Hay Festival in 2003, and earned the author a James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin.
Before becoming an author, Pierre, using his birth name, was an actor. His most notable role was as Private (later Lance Corporal) "Bluey" in the television mini-series Anzacs which premiered on the Nine Network in Australia on 27 October 1985. Although Bluey, who operated the Lewis gun, was one of the main characters in the story, he did not speak a word (even during songs sung by his platoon he only whistled) and was rarely seen without a half smoked Roll-Your-Own cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He starred alongside Paul Hogan, Andrew Clarke, Jon Blake and Megan Williams.
Born in Reynella in South Australia, where his father was lecturing in genetics at the University of Adelaide, by the age of two Pierre had already spent time in the United States, the South Pacific and Great Britain. He was then raised from early childhood into his 20s in Mexico City's community of Jardines del Pedregal, and attended Edron Academy.
He recalls in a Guardian article of 1 September 2004, that he would later return to Durham most years, usually around the second week in July, to see the Durham Miners Gala. Aged seven, he fell ill with hepatitis and had to spend a year in bed. After he recovered, his parents were faced with the choice of keeping him a year behind in school, or letting him stay in his class and just catch up. They chose the latter. Pierre sees this as his "all the trouble began when ... " moment, as it meant him falling out with his peers.
His father, once decorated as a Lancaster Bomber pilot in World War II, by then a scientific partner to Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman E. Borlaug, fell ill when Pierre was sixteen, and died three years later.
Pierre's permanent residency in Mexico ended at Reynosa on the United States-Mexican border in the middle of the night when he claims he was stopped trying to import a 6-litre sports car. He claims he intended to drive through the Sonoran Desert to Mexico City, but Mexico at the time had a protectionist auto industry, making foreign vehicle imports illegal to all but tourists. Pierre succeeded in crossing with the car but found his papers cancelled by the time he reached Mexico City some 18 hours later. The border crossing at Reynosa is described and celebrated in Pierre's novel Vernon God Little, as is the journey by road from the border.
Pierre asserts that of the following years, nine were spent in a drug-induced haze, culminating with a stay in Australia where he finally collapsed. He described this period of his life in an interview given on the Australian television show Enough Rope with Andrew Denton in 2006:
I was lucky enough to be in Australia at the time, having come back to try my luck. The support network was fantastic. There's immediately the safety net under you here, which, in the rest of the world I wouldn't have survived, definitely. But, here, I was taken into therapy, where they told me that ... I was in the grip of bad psychology, and that this rabbit was never going to come out of the hat and I should get used to the idea, which was what I needed at the time.
During his twenties he had been involved in a film production to explore the fall of the Aztec Empire and follow trails to the remains of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, and possibly to his lost treasure, the whereabouts of which remains one of Mexico's great mysteries.
For most of the 1990s, he wrote his first novel whilst living in Balham, south London, finally agreeing a publication deal with Faber & Faber on 11 September 2001. In the following weeks he relocated to County Leitrim, Ireland, where he began work on a second novel. The Booker Prize comes with a monetary award of GBP 50,000. Upon being notified of his victory, Pierre said that the money would go part way toward paying off the debts incurred in his 20s, when psychological issues and drug abuse were driving forces.
In 2005 DBC Pierre revisited the Mexico of his youth to finally explore and document the downfall of the Aztecs. In this revealing Channel 4 documentary he revisits the Aztecs' epic tale of decline and conquest. The Last Aztec, part historical film and part road movie, was aired in 2006 and follows Pierre as he traces the advance of the Spanish conquistadors toward the Aztec capital. It also picks up the threads he had intended to pursue in his ill-fated production of years earlier, centring on the wizards and witches of an Otomi culture in a remote valley in the Sierra Madre mountains of central Mexico.
In 2007 his first novel, Vernon God Little, was adapted by Tanya Ronder for the London stage. It was directed by Rufus Norris at the Young Vic from 27 April – 9 June. To date the work has been translated in more than 40 countries worldwide and produced as a play by at least four theatre companies.
In 2009, he donated the short story "Suddenly Dr Cox" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Pierre's story was published in the Air collection. He is also a contributor to the 2009 rock biography on The Triffids Vagabond Holes: David McComb and the Triffids, edited by Australian academics Niall Lucy and Chris Coughran.
- Vernon God Little (January 2003, Booker Prize 2003)
- Ludmila's Broken English (February 2006)
- Lights Out in Wonderland (September 2010)
- Short stories
- "Suddenly Doctor Cox" (May 2009)
- "DBC Pierre – About the author". Authors. Noordhoff Uitgevers. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- "The man who fell to earth – Celebrity News & Gossip, Independent Woman". Independent.ie. 16 April 2006. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- Andrew Denton. "episode 104, Monday 22 May 2006". Enough Rope. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- "Ox-Tales". Oxfam. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- Niall Lucy and Chris Coughran, eds. Vagabond Holes: David McComb and The Triffids (Fremantle: Fremantle Press, 2009).
- "Year of reading dangerously – Books – Entertainment". theage.com.au. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- "press". Hay Festival. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- DBC Pierre at British Council: Literature
- Recorded interview with DBC Pierre Feeding the Chooks
- Interview discussing Ludmila's Broken English: article on DBC Pierre (BBC Collective)
- How did I get here?: article on DBC Pierre (The Guardian)
- Strong first impression: interview with DBC Pierre (Powell's City of Books)
- What have you learnt in your time on this planet?–recorded interview with DBC Pierre, April 2006 (RTRFM)
- Faber and Faber: DBC Pierre's UK publisher
- A short interview with DBC Pierre: discussing Ludmila's Broken English
- BBC Entertainment: video and links to DBC Pierre and Man Booker
- Video Interview with Martin Goodman at The Philip Larkin Centre