A former US machine gunner's irreverent memoir about his year fighting in Iraq has won the Blooker prize for the best book of the year based on a blog.
My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell was awarded the ?5,000 (US$10,000) prize yesterday, beating out 110 entries from 15 countries.
The late Kurt Vonnegut wrote to Buzzell praising the book and US blogging queen Arianna Huffington, a Blooker judge, called it "an unfiltered, often ferocious expression of his boots-on-the-ground view of the Iraq war."
But Buzzell, 31, said he would have never written it had it not been for the encouragement from readers of the anonymous online journal he started in his free time in a war zone.
"I went into it without out any aspirations," he said on Sunday before learning he had won the prize. "It was just a way for me to deal with what I was going through."
In the eight weeks before the US Army stopped him from blogging, book agents started e-mailing him. His book has since been published by Penguin and translated into seven languages.
Some literary circles may look down on books that began life as blogs, Buzzell said, but for an ordinary person who has a story to tell, blog writing can have unrivaled immediacy and power.
"I wrote that stuff right after events happened with my ears still ringing," he said by telephone from his home in San Francisco.
Blog books growing
Blooker prize organizer Peter Freedman said a growing number of publishers see the potential of blogs to be adapted to books, adding he was surprised at how many of this year's nominations came from established publishing companies.
"Many of these bloggers come with a significant following," Freedman said. "The Internet in a way is a part of a giant talent hunt for grassroots writers."
The Blooker was inspired by the trend of publishers turning Internet content into traditional book form,'' Freedman said.
``It struck us as interesting that with everyone talking about a brave new world, people still want print and bound books,'' he said.
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