Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, published by Chatto & Windus.
The Tasmanian-born author is the third Australian to win the prize which, for the first time in its 46-year history, is now expanded to include entries from writers of all nationalities, writing originally in English and published in the UK. He joins an impressive literary canon of former winners including fellow Australians Thomas Kenneally (Schindler’s Ark, 1982) and Peter Carey (Oscar & Lucinda, 1988 and The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001).
The Narrow Road to the Deep North centres on the experiences of surgeon Dorrigo Evans in a Japanese POW camp on the infamous Thailand-Burma railway.
Named after a book by the Japanese haiku poet Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North was 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 novel bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism that will be of interest throughout Asia, as well as in London, Sydney and New York.