BOOK 136: VERNON GOD LITTLE: DBC PIERRE
Vernon God Little (2003) is a novel by DBC Pierre. It was his debut novel and won the Booker Prize in 2003. It has twice been adapted as a stage play.
The life of Vernon Little, a normal teenager who lives in Martirio, Texas, falls apart when his best friend, Jesus Navarro, murders their classmates in the schoolyard before killing himself, and Vernon is taken in for questioning.
The Booker Prize judges described this book as a "coruscating black comedy reflecting our alarm but also our fascination with America"
The character of Vernon as a troubled teenager has drawn comparisons with the character Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye novel. There are also significant similarities with Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The book is written in contemporary vernacular - with the use of foul satirical language and a witty irony. The town in which Vernon lives, Martirio, is ironically given the Spanish word for martyrdom.
Formerly an artist, cartoonist, photographer and filmmaker, and later accused of being a conman and thief following the wild, drug-fuelled international rampage of his twenties, Pierre wrote the novel in London after a period of therapy, personal reconstruction and unemployment. He states the novel was a reaction to the culture around him, which after his own reorientation in life seemed to be full of the same delusional behaviours and self-entitlements which brought his own earlier downfall.
The book was originally drafted as the first part of a trilogy which his UK publisher advised against, but which Pierre has loosely pursued in two subsequent works set 'in the presence of death', and dealing with contemporary, media-infected themes: Ludmila's Broken English (2006), and the final part of the End Times Trilogy, Lights Out In Wonderland (2010). This third book follows to their conclusion many of the questions underlying Vernon God Little, and returns to the first-person narrative of a young man set apart from his culture, this time in Europe.