the murky past of the
novelist DBC Pierre, winner of the Man Booker
Prize, confessed to betraying and fleecing his
friends in a manner that even Byron would have
at. The reformed drug addict and gambler admitted
to selling his best friend's home and pocketing
the proceeds as well as working up debts of hundreds
of thousands of dollars in a scheme to find Montezuma's
gold in Mexico.
Pierre is the nom de plume of an enigmatic Mexican-Australian
called Peter Finlay, 42, whose chequered past
began to catch up with him last month when he
was shortlisted for the prize, arguably the world's
most prestigious book award.
then, despite the rollicking reviews for his first
novel, Vernon God Little - a darkly comic morality
tale set in Texas about a boy who lies his way
into very deep trouble - so little was known of
Finlay that his name was mis-spelt on the Man
Booker longlist as DCB Pierre. But all that is
about to change.
clue to his dishonesty, which included persuading
a friend to sign away his property, was there
in the acknowledgements at the back of his book.
"To all whose shores remain littered with
my sins - this could be the handle of a mop...
" he wrote.
he told the Guardian: "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." Finlay denied that he
was a crook, or that he had "deliberately
ruined other peoples lives".
he did confess to the Guardian that he used to
have a major drug and gambling problem. "For
nine years I was in a drug haze, on a rampage
of cocaine, heroin, any shit I could get. I am
not proud of what I have done and I now want to
put it right." Finlay said he has begun to
pay back the 75-year-old American painter whose
home he admits to "taking". "One
day I will pay it all back," he vowed.
author has spent the last few years in a rented
hideout among the hills of north Leitrim in Ireland,
a place so isolated it is jokingly referred to
as "one step beyond the back of beyond".
But he said he knew that one day he would be found
been preparing for this, playing it out in my
years. I knew it would come," he said. "I
am a very changed character in myself. I no longer
have expensive tastes, a cup of tea and a book
is like a week in Monte Carlo for me."
death of his wealthy father when he was 19, and
the overnight nationalisation of Mexico's banks
in 1982 which slashed his inheritance from "hundreds
of thousands of dollars to tens of thousands at
a stroke", was the catalyst for his woes,
he insists. "I suppose I have this Mexican
machismo thing. I had to provide for my mother.
I remember doing a mad deal with a woman in a
tower block who had a safe full of US dollars
to get what was left of our money out of the country.
That night I left Mexico City with the cash sown
into my suit."
a further intriguing twist to the tale, the odds
on the reformed gambler picking up the £50,000
cheque on Tuesday night shortened yesterday after
one of the judges, the critic DJ Taylor, hinted
they have a "favourite in mind".
Finlay/Pierre - whose initials DBC stand for Dirty
But Clean -- a nod to his murky past -- said he
was saving his most explosive revelations for
his memoirs. "I'm keeping quite a lot back
- there are some things you would never believe.
At one stage, I won the lottery in Mexico. To
be honest, I've got a shit load more stuff to
work through. It's going to be a long road back."
rights to Finlay's novel have already been optioned
by a French producer working in Hollywood. There
is likely to be no shortage of takers for those
to his life either.
article was first published in the Guardian.