DBC Pierre first came to the attention of the world with the publication of Vernon God Little in 2003. This furious satire on contemporary life, with its eponymous victim/hero accused of complicity in the murder of his classmates, addressed the questions suddenly being asked by Western societies in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre.
This was among the first novels to recognise and lampoon the pernicious influence of an hysterical, twenty-four hour media environment and the hypocritical reactions to criminal behaviour of a social organisation steeped in prejudice and injustice. Its scabrous, caricaturist humour would become a feature of DBC Pierre’s work. The author’s succeeding novels, Ludmilla’s Broken English and Lights Out in Wonderland, explore similar territory – taking contemporary issues (human trafficking in the former and luxury consumerism in the latter) as starting points for witty, choleric investigations into the behaviourisms of contemporary Western society.
We met on a clear cold day that promised spring and sat on a bar’s flat roof in North London. DBC Pierre drinks English Breakfast tea throughout the interview (he was speaking that evening to 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square). A multi-national, troubled upbringing is evident in Pierre’s entertainingly itinerant accent and acronymic pseudonym (Dirty But Clean, apparently). Nevertheless, he considers himself English (we talk about cricket; take note of the tea drinking; and he refers to the English populace in the first person plural), and his attitudes to art are those of an Englishman in the mould of Hogarth or Huxley. The restraint evident in his choice of tea does not, incidentally, extend to his heroic consumption of unevenly packed roll-up cigarettes. He is generous with his answers and good company throughout.