In the first year that the Man Booker prize has been opened to authors of any nationality writing in English, the Australian author Richard Flanagan features among the 13 writers longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker prize for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Flanagan has declared that he was stunned to see his name on the list although he has a distinguished track record with a number of previous well-received novels.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is based on the experience of an Australian man in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma death railway in 1943. It has received, in the main, very positive reviews which surely makes it a contender for the shortlist.
“There’s a huge popular re-engagement with Australian writers, “ says the Tasmanian writer, as reported in The Guardian today. “They are selling books like never before and when you go to the book festivals the Australian writers are getting bigger crowds than the big international writers,” he said.
Flanagan believes that because people are being “starved of public discussion on things that are important to them “ they are returning to reading books.
“People feel they are being talked down to in the media and in politics. In every soul there’s a universe that wants to be recognised as that. People are many things, not just a marketing segment or a political definition.
“When people feel like they are treated like fools, books offer not just solace, but liberation. They allow them to feel human.”
The six titles on the Man Booker prize shortlist will be announced on September 9. The winning novel will be revealed in London on October 14.