Bartender wins "American Idol"-style book contest

Last Updated: Apr 08, 2008, 12:14 PM IST

New York, April 08: A New Orleans bartender who survived Hurricane Katrina won an "American Idol"-style competition on Monday after the public voted online for his book to be published by Penguin Group.

Bill Loehfelm, who won a $25,000 contract, wrote "Fresh Kills" during the day while bartending at night. It is about the murder of a man on a New York City street corner that reunites his estranged and abused children.

The former English teacher beat nine other finalists to win Amazon "Breakthrough Novel Award."

The public were able to read excerpts from each of the books online and also read comments on each of the books by author Elizabeth Gilbert, National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman, literary agent Eric Simonoff and publisher Amy Einhorn.

"Fresh Kills quickly expands past itself, blows away its limiting genre boundaries, and becomes a story of real psychological complexity and emotional realism," Gilbert said.

The other finalists included a North Carolina woman who completed her novel while commuting to and from her job at Macy's department store, a Connecticut pediatrician who wrote her book after hours and a Kansas computer programmer who has been writing on the side for the past 20 years.