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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kelman Wins Booker With Tale of Drunk

LONDON -- Scottish writer James Kelman won Britain's top literary prize Tuesday with a black comedy about a blind drunk that is peppered with expletives.


Kelman landed the ?20,000 ($32,000) Booker prize for "How Late It Was, How Late," the tale of an ex-convict who goes on a two-day drinking binge.


He picks a fight with policemen who beat him up and then wakes up in a cell to discover he has gone blind.


The judges waded through 130 entries for this year's prize. Helman fought off a strong challenge from literary journalist Alan Hollinghurst for his explicit gay novel "The Folding Star" about an English tutor's love for his teenage pupil.


But booksellers and bookmakers alike, who usually do a roaring trade in the buildup to the Booker prizegiving, reported interest was minimal this year after critics said the six shortlisted books were dull and elitist.


"Our members say sales have been disappointing. This is not a classic year," said Gill Cronin, marketing executive at The Booksellers Association.


Last year's winner, Dublin teacher Roddy Doyle, won critical and popular acclaim for "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha," a tender story of a child coming to terms with his parents' breakup. It has sold 320,000 copies in the past year.


Famous Booker winners have included Salman Rushdie's 1989 "Midnight's Children" and Thomas Keneally's 1982 "Schindler's Ark" which was later made into the hit film "Schindler's List."