Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Damilola's Death Inspired Me, Says Booker Hopeful

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Damilola's Death Inspired Me, Says Booker Hopeful

Article excerpt

Byline: Louise Jury Chief Arts Correspondent

DEBUT novelist Stephen Kelman has told how he was so moved by the manslaughter of Damilola Taylor that it finally compelled him to write.

Kelman, 35, who grew up in Luton and still lives on a council estate there, said he had dreamed of being an author from the age of six.

But it was his powerful reaction to the horror of the senseless killing of the 10-year-old a decade ago that prompted the novel that has now been long-listed for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

"At first I didn't think I was qualified to tackle the story. But it struck me quite personally and when in 2005 I realised no one else had written about it I thought, 'let's make it me'. I wanted the story to be about any urban centre where there are problems."

Kelman joins contenders including Julian Barnes, DJ Taylor and previous winner Alan Hollinghurst.

The book languished in slush piles and was turned down by a string of editors before being published to acclaim by Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury. …

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