• The Man Booker Prize nominees with Richard Flanagan, second from the right. Photo credit: BBCThe Man Booker Prize nominees with Richard Flanagan, second from the right. Photo credit: BBC

Tasmanian graduate wins Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize for 2014 has been awarded to Tasmanian author and UTas graduate Richard Flanagan.  Flanagan’s book The Narrow Road to the Deep North, is set during the construction of the infamous Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.

AC Grayling, chair of the Man Booker judges, said it was a "remarkable love story as well as a story about human suffering and comradeship".

The novel has been inspired by the experiences of Flanagan’s father, who was a Japanese prisoner of war and survived the Death Railway. Sadly his father died the day the book was completed, age 98.

"The battle was to write something that wasn't [my father's] story but, at the same time, true to the fundamental spiritual truth of his experience," Flanagan told the BBC.

"He trusted me, he never asked me what the story was. But I did talk to him often about very small things.

"What the mud was like, what the smell of a rotting tropical ulcer that had eaten through to the shin bone exactly was. What a tiny ball of sour rice would taste like when you're starving, what starvation felt like in your belly and your brain.

"It was those things I talked to him about because I think truth exists in those small but very real physical details."

Richard Flanagan’s prize-winning book is his sixth novel and took 12 years to complete. He also worked on the screenplay for Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 film Australia and directed the film of his own novel The Sound of One Hand Clapping in 1998.

Richard Flanagan graduated in the early 80’s from the University of Tasmania with a first-class honours Bachelor of Arts.

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