Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker Prize
Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage).
Flanagan was presented with the £50,000 (A$91,233) award at London’s Guildhall on 14 October. He is the fourth Australian to win the prize, joining two-time winner Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally and Australian-born DBC Pierre.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Flanagan’s sixth novel, and explores the experiences of an Australian surgeon in a POW camp on the Thai-Burma railway. It has already won several awards, including the Indie Book of the Year Award and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
‘This is the book that Richard Flanagan was born to write,’ said chair of the judging panel A C Grayling in a statement. ‘The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war. Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism.’
Flanagan told the Sydney Morning Herald that the £50,000 award ‘in essence means I can continue to write’. On accepting the award, the author thanked his wife for accompanying him on the writer’s ‘journey into humility’ and his Australian publisher Nikki Christer for her ‘rare genius’ in helping him and other Australian writers ‘out of the literary ghetto’. Read Flanagan’s full acceptance speech on the Guardian website.
Christer said in a statement: ‘I have worked with Richard Flanagan for nearly twenty years, and I have always known in my heart that he is one of the most original, talented, creative and exciting voices writing in the English language. With this accolade we have confirmation that he is also one of the most important. He now joins a very select group of writers as a Booker Prize winner, cementing his already high reputation and status as a writer of books that are loved by readers around the world.’
Flanagan’s novel was chosen from a shortlist of six. Each of the shortlisted authors receive £2500 (A$4562) and a designer bound edition of their book..
As previously reported by Books+Publishing, this year’s Man Booker Prize was opened for the first time to any novel written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the author’s nationality. The award was previously only open to writers from the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth countries.
Last year’s winner was New Zealand author Eleanor Catton for The Luminaries (Granta). Organisers of the Man Booker Prize report that 300,000 copies of The Luminaries have been sold in the UK and almost 500,000 worldwide.
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