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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 08:21 GMT
Haddon takes Whitbread book prize
Mark Haddon and his wife
Mark Haddon celebrates with his wife, Sos Eltis
Author Mark Haddon has won the 25,000 Whitbread Book of The Year award for his novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

The tale of a 15-year-old-boy with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, was one of the most heavily backed favourites in the award's history.

The judges said it had "used disability to throw a light upon the world".

"I've been celebrating for the last 10 months, since the book came out," the author said after his win.

"It's been a huge success, which none of us expected, least of all me. And I feel I've been doing a lot of celebrating all the way along," he told the BBC.

"Of course now the publicity has completely taken over my life. I need to celebrate for a while and do some interviews and then go away to a secret location so I can write the next book."

Haddon's novel beat DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little, winner of last year's Man Booker prize, to the 25,000 title.

Haddon qualified as a contender for the Whitbread Book of the Year after first winning the Whitbread Best Novel category for his story - a murder mystery involving an autistic teenager.

It is about the adventures of a boy who investigates when a neighbour's dog is killed with a garden fork.

The book was a Christmas best-seller and has already received a clutch of fiction awards.

Whitbread judges wrote "we can think of few readers who could no take no pleasure from this wonderful novel".

Record entries

Haddon's murder mystery picked up its second award in a month last week when it was named best book at the eighth annual South Bank Show Awards

DBC Pierre
DBC Pierre's black comedy was second favourite to win
DBC Pierre entered the race for the Whitbread book of the year, after winning the Whitbread First Novel award.

His story is a black comedy about a high school massacre in Texas. In October, it won the Booker Prize, the UK's top literary award.

Also competing for the 25,000 Whitbread award were DJ Taylor, Don Paterson and David Almond.

Taylor won the biography category for Orwell: The Life, while Dundee-born Paterson took the poetry award for Landing Light.

Almond's The Fire-Eaters - the story of a boy growing up in a seaside community near Newcastle at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis - was the children's book award winner.

Two editions - the children's edition has been outsold by the adult's edition by nearly three times.

A record 468 people entered their works for the Whitbread competition. The submissions included 111 children's books.

Last year's overall winner was a biography of English diarist Samuel Pepys by Claire Tomalin.

The curious tale of author Haddon
07 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Whitbread win for Booker victor
06 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Haddon's tale of genius
07 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Author Pierre wins Booker prize
15 Oct 03  |  Entertainment

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