The Man Booker Prize

2014 - Richard Flanagan

Born: 1961, Longford

Author's quote: "A good book ... leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul. "

Field: Fiction

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Richard Flanagan

About Richard Flanagan

Richard Miller Flanagan (born 1961) is an Australian novelist from Tasmania. "Considered by many to be the finest Australian novelist of his generation", according to The Economist, each of his novels has attracted major praise and received numerous awards and honours. He also has written and directed feature films.

Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961, the fifth of six children. He is descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s. His father is a survivor of the Burma Death Railway. One of his three brothers is Australian Rules football journalist Martin Flanagan. He grew up in the remote mining town of Rosebery on Tasmania's western coast.

Flanagan left school at the age of 16. He returned to study at the University of Tasmania, where he was president of the Tasmania University Union in 1983. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours. The following year, he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship at Worcester College, Oxford, where he was admitted to the degree of Master of Letters in History. Flanagan wrote four non-fiction works before moving to fiction, works he has called "his apprenticeship". One of these was an autobiography of 'Australia's greatest con man', John Friedrich, which Flanagan ghostwrote in six weeks to make money to write his first novel. Friedrich killed himself in the middle of the book's writing and it was published posthumously. Simon Caterson, writing in The Australian.

His first novel, Death of a River Guide (1994), is the tale of Aljaz Cosini, river guide, who lies drowning, reliving his life and the lives of his family and forebears. It was described by The Times Literary Supplement as "one of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing". His next book, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997), which tells the story of Slovenian immigrants, was a major bestseller, selling more than 150,000 copies in Australia alone. Flanagan's first two novels, declared Kirkus Reviews, "rank with the finest fiction out of Australia since the heyday of Patrick White".

Gould's Book of Fish (2001), Flanagan's third novel, is based on the life of William Buelow Gould, a convict artist, and tells the tale of his love affair with a young black woman in 1828. It went on to win the 2002 Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Flanagan has described these early novels as 'soul histories'. His fourth novel was The Unknown Terrorist (2006), which The New York Times called "stunning ... a brilliant meditation upon the post-9/11 world". His fifth novel, Wanting (2008) tells two parallel stories: about the novelist Charles Dickens in England, and Mathinna, an Aboriginal orphan adopted by Sir John Franklin, the colonial governor of Van Diemen's Land, and his wife, Lady Jane Franklin. As well as being a New Yorker Book of the Year and Observer Book of the Year, it won the Queensland Premier's Prize, the Western Australian Premier's Prize and the Tasmania Book Prize.

His most recent novel is The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013). The life story of Dorrigo Evans, a flawed war hero and survivor of the Death Railway, it has been hailed by The Australian as "beyond comparison ... An immense achievement" and "a masterpiece" by The Guardian.



The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan

By Rachel Walker

I've not read Flanagan before (or even heard of him), but I am not surprised that people have used the word "masterpiece" about this book - it is a glory. I haven't read a book that's made me so emotional in a very long time, and I'm very glad indeed that I did. This is a beautiful, sensitive portrait of the impact of war, the ambiguity of the nature of war itself, the futility etc, as well as a novel of love, hope, life, endurance and history. The structure flits back and forth as memory is wont to do, and the books events slowly unfurl like an abhorrent, gorgeous blossom. This is really writing from the heart: wrenching, poetic, emotional powerful. I can't praise it highly enough. This is as powerful and illuminating as All Quiet on the Western Front, and deserves the same renown and longevity. No one needs telling even once that war is a horrible business for everyone involved, during and after, but sometimes it's good to be told in a way that is painfully beautiful and moving. As this book is.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan

By Mrs. R

Having lived with a Dad who was also a POW of Japan,I have,since his death,read many books on the subject. This book dealt with the mental tenacity they needed to survive. It explained to me why he always seemed a distant stranger,unable to show his feelings. The lyricism in the book was breath taking. The beauty of the descriptions emphasised the horror of the situation. The story stayed with me throughout each day during the time I took to read it. It has moved me in such a way that I will never forget.