Australian Author Richard Flanagan has been announced of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Narrow Road to the Deep North – a novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
Considered by many to be one of Australia’s finest novelists, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the sixth novel from Richard Flanagan, and centres upon the experiences of surgeon Dorrigo Evans in a Japanese POW camp on the now infamous Thailand-Burma railway. Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, it is described by the 2014 judges as ‘a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it’.
Questioning the meaning of heroism, the book explores what motivates acts of extreme cruelty and shows that perpetrators may be as much victims as those they abuse. Flanagan’s father, who died the day he finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway.
The Tasmanian author is the fourth Australian-born author to win the coveted prize, and joins an impressive literary canon of former winners including Thomas Kenneally (Schindler’s Ark, 1982), Peter Carey (Oscar & Lucinda, 1988 and The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001), and DBC Pierre (Vernon Little God, 2003).
Published in 26 countries, his novels include Death Of A River Guide, The Sound Of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book Of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting. In 1998, Flanagan wrote and directed the feature film The Sound Of One Hand Clapping, and worked with Baz Luhrmann as a writer on the 2008 film Australia. A collection of his essays And What Do You Do, Mr Gable? was published in 2011.
In accepting the award, Flanagan said, “I’m astonished. You do not expect these strokes of good fortune to come your way, you’re just grateful to be back at the table the next day writing.”
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is published by Random House Books Australia. For more information, visit: www.randomhouse.com.au for details.
Image: Richard Flanagan – photo by Ulf Andersen