First-time novelist DBC Pierre has tonight won the prestigious Booker Prize for his black comedy, Vernon God Little.

The reformed drug addict, whose real name is Peter Finlay, was praised for capturing the world's interest in modern America in his novel about a high school massacre in Texas.

The 42-year-old becomes the third Australian to win the prize after Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally.

The prize will earn him £50,000 and a vast increase in sales around theworld.

He has worked in the past as a designer and an internationally published cartoonist, and currently lives in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim.

The novelist sealed the publishing deal for the book just one hour before the first plane hit New York's World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001.

'Ever since, I feel like there's some dark destiny swirling around the book', he said.

Pierre has said he is saving some of the most interesting details from his own story for his memoirs.