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Richard Flanagan

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His rst novel, Death of a River Guide (1994), is the tale
only in preview).
of Aljaz Cosini, river guide, who lies drowning, reliving his life and the lives of his family and forebears. It
Richard Miller Flanagan (born 1961) is an Australian
was described by The Times Literary Supplement as one
novelist from Tasmania. Considered by many to be the
of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing.[9]
nest Australian novelist of his generation, according to
His next book, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997),
The Economist, each of his novels has attracted major
which tells the story of Slovenian immigrants, was a ma[1]
praise and received numerous awards and honours. He
jor bestseller, selling more than 150,000 copies in Ausalso has written and directed feature lms. He won the
tralia alone. Flanagans rst two novels, declared Kirkus
2014 Man Booker Prize.
Reviews, rank with the nest ction out of Australia
since the heyday of Patrick White".[10]

Goulds Book of Fish (2001), Flanagans third novel, is

based on the life of William Buelow Gould, a convict
artist, and tells the tale of his love aair 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.[11] His fth 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 Diemens
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 Premiers Prize, the Western
Australian Premiers Prize and the Tasmania Book Prize.

Early life and education

Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961, the

fth of six children. He is descended from Irish convicts
transported during the Great Famine to Van Diemens
Land.[3] Flanagans father was a survivor of the Burma
Death Railway and one of his three brothers is Australian
rules football journalist Martin Flanagan.
Flanagan grew up in the remote mining town of Rosebery
on Tasmanias western coast.[4][5][6]
Flanagan left school at the age of 16 but returned to study
in 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.


His most recent novel is The Narrow Road to the Deep

North (2013). The life story of Dorrigo Evans, a awed
war hero and survivor of the Death Railway, it has been
hailed by The Australian as beyond comparison ... An
immense achievement[12] and a masterpiece by The
Guardian.[13] It won the 2014 Man Booker Prize.[14][15]

1.3 Journalism

Early Works

Richard Flanagan has written on literature, the environment, art and politics for the Australian and international
press including Le Monde, The Daily Telegraph (London),
Suddeutsche Zeitung, the New York Times, and the New
Yorker.[16] Some of his writings have proved controversial. The Selling-out of Tasmania, published after the
death of former Premier Jim Bacon in 2004, was critical of the Bacon governments relationship with corporate interests in the state. Premier Paul Lennon declared,
Richard Flanagan and his ctions are not welcome in the
new Tasmania.[17]

Flanagan wrote four non-ction works before moving to

ction, works he has called his apprenticeship.[4][5][7]
One of these was an autobiography of 'Australias greatest con man', John Friedrich, which Flanagan ghost wrote
in six weeks to make money to write his rst novel.
Friedrich killed himself in the middle of the books writing and it was published posthumously. Simon Caterson,
writing in The Australian, described it as one of the least
reliable but most fascinating memoirs in the annals of
Australian publishing.[8]


Flanagans 2007 essay on logging company Gunns, then 2.2 Non-ction

the biggest hardwood woodchipper in the world, Gunns.
(1985) A Terrible Beauty: History of the Gordon
Out of Control in The Monthly,[18] rst published as
River Country[41]
Paradise Razed in The Telegraph (London),[19] inspired
Sydney businessman Georey Cousins high-prole cam (1990) The Rest of the World Is Watching Tasmapaign to stop the building of Gunns two billion dollar Bell
nia and the Greens[42] (co-editor)
Bay Pulp Mill.
Cousins reprinted 50,000 copies
of the essay for letterboxing in the electorates of Aus (1991) Codename Iago: The Story of John
tralias environment minister and opposition environment
Friedrich[43][44] (co-writer)
spokesperson.[22][23] Gunns subsequently collapsed with
huge debt,[24] its CEO John Gay found guilty of insider
(1991) Parish-Fed Bastards. A History of the Politics
trading,[25] and the pulp mill was never built. Flanagans
of the Unemployed in Britain, 18841939[45]
essay won the 2008 John Curtin Prize for Journalism.
(2011) And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?
A collection of his non-ction was published as And What
Do You Do, Mr Gable? (2011).

2.3 Films


The 1998 lm of The Sound of One Hand Clapping, written and directed by Flanagan, was nominated for the
Golden Bear at that years Berlin Film Festival.[27]
He worked with Baz Luhrmann as a writer on the 2008
lm Australia.


Personal life

Flanagan is an ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy

Foundation,[28] to which he donated his $40,000 prize
money on winning the Australian Prime Ministers Literary Prize in 2014.[29] A painting of Richard Flanagan
by artist Georey Dyer won the 2003 Archibald Prize.[30]
A rapid on the Franklin River, Flanagans Surprise, is
named after him.[31]

(1998) The Sound of One Hand Clapping (director

and scriptwriter)
(2008) Australia (co-writer)

3 Awards and Honours

(1996) National Fiction Award for Death of a River
(1995) Victorian Premiers Prize for Best First Fiction (for Death of a River Guide)
(1998) National Booksellers award for Best Book
for The Sound of One hand Clapping
(1998) Victorian Premiers Prize for Best Novel The
Sound of One hand Clapping)

Flanagan lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his wife, Majda

(ne Smolej) and has three daughters; Rosie, Jean and

(2002) Australian Literary Society Gold Medal (for

Goulds Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish)


(2002) The Commonwealth Writers Prize (for

Goulds Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish)


(2008) Western Australian Premiers Literary

Award for Fiction (for Wanting) [46]


Death of a River Guide (1994)

The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997)
Goulds Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish
The Unknown Terrorist (2006)[34]
Wanting (2008)[35][36][37][38]
The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013)[39][40]

(2002) Victorian Premiers Prize for Fiction for

oulds Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish

(2009) Queensland Premiers Literary Award for

Fiction (for Wanting)
(2011) Tasmania Book Prize (for Wanting) [47]
(2014) Western Australian Premiers Literary
Award for Fiction (for The Narrow Road to the
Deep North)
(2014) Queensland Premiers Literary Award for
Fiction (for The Narrow Road to the Deep North)

(2014) The Man Booker Prize for Fiction (for The

Narrow Road to the Deep North) [49]

[19] Flanagan, Richard (28 June 2007). Paradise razed. The

Daily Telegraph. London.

(2014) Australian Prime Ministers Literary Prize

(for The Narrow Road to the Deep North) [50]

[20] SMH.com.au. Retrieved 15 October 2014.


[1] New ction: Remembrance - The Economist. The

Economist. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[21] The corporate assassin. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[22] Pulp mill ght moves into MPs backyards Environment. The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 August 2007.
[23] Garrett hedges bets on mill Environment. The Sydney
Morning Herald. 29 August 2007.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/books/

[24] Gunns failure a story of corporate greed and hubris, say

mills critics. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15
October 2014.

[3] Dynasties 2: More Remarkable and Inuential Australian

Families (1 ed.). Books for the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation. 2006. pp. 3132. ISBN 9780733317675.

[25] Commonwealth pursues Gay for proceeds of crime.

ABC News. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[4] Notes for Reading Groups Richard Flanagan (PDF).

Picador Australia. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 200911-08.

[26] http://archive.premier.vic.gov.au/newsroom/4607.html
[27] Berlinale: 1998 Programme. berlinale.de. Retrieved

[5] Richard Flanagan. The British Council. Retrieved


[28] http://www.booksellerandpublisher.com.au/item/32546

[6] Our Authors. Random House Australia.

[29] https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/

[7] Author Biography. www.bookbrowse.com. 30 April

2007. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
[8] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/
[9] Smith, Vivian (3 October 1997). Down the Franklin.
The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 15 October
[10] Death of a River Guide, Kirkus Reviews, 1 March 2001
[11] Kakutani, Michiko (8 May 2007). A Misunderstanding,
and a Simple Life Descends Into a Nightmare. The New
York Times.

[30] http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media/archives_2003/
[31] Peter Griths and Bruce Baxter,(2010) The Ever-Varying
Flood. A History and Guide to the Franklin River. (2nd
ed.) Preston, Vic. ISBN 0-9586647-1-4 p.57
[32] MacFarlane, Robert (26 May 2002). Con shing. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
[33] Review of Goulds Book of Fish". Retrieved 15 October
[34] The Unknown Terrorist ocial site

[12] Poetry without a shred of pity. The Australian. News

Corp Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[35] ABC.net.au Transcript of interview with Ramona Koval

on The Book Show, ABC Radio National on his novel
Wanting, 12/11/2008

[13] Williams, Michael (26 September 2013). Dinner with

Richard Flanagan, a child of the death railway. The
Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[36] Themonthly.com, Video: Interview with Richard Flanagan about Wanting and Baz Luhrmanns Australia

[14] Richard Flanagan wins Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Daily Telegraph. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[37] Ocial Australian Wanting book website

[38] Boyd, William (28 June 2009). Saints and Savages. The
New York Times.

[15] Man Booker Prize 2014: The Narrow Road to the Deep
North author Richard Flanagan becomes third Australian
to win the literary accolade. Independent. 14 October
2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[39] Williams, MIchael (26 September 2013). Dinner with

Richard Flanagan, a child of the death railway. The
Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2013.

[16] See for example http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/


[40] Williamson, Geordie (28 September 2013). Poetry without a shred of pity. The Australian. Retrieved 31 December 2013.

[17] Australian Story. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

[18] Themonthly.com. The Monthly. Retrieved 15 October

[41] A terrible beauty : history of the Gordon River country

/ Richard Flanagan. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2009-11-08.

[42] The Rest of the world is watching. National Library of

Australia. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
[43] Codename Iago : the story of John Friedrich : by John
Friedrich with Richard Flanagan. National Library of
Australia. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
[44] Richard Flanagan. www.middlemiss.org. 20 December
2004. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
[45] ""Parish-fed bastards : a history of the politics of the unemployed in Britain, 1884-1939 / Richard ... - National
Library of Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
[46] http://pba.slwa.wa.gov.au/awards_archive/2008
[47] http://www.booksandpublishing.
[48] http://qldlitawards.org.au/winners/2014-winners
[49] http://themanbookerprize.com/fiction/backlist/2014
[50] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/books/

External links
ABC.net.au Transcript of interview with Ramona
Koval on The Book Show, ABC Radio National
from Byron Bay Writers Festival, July 2007
Richard Flanagan at British Council: Literature
Interview with Phillip Adams, Late Night Live,
ABC Radio National
Articles and videos at The Monthly


Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses



Richard Flanagan Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Flanagan?oldid=733532162 Contributors: Chuq, Vanished user

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