The Tasmanian-born author is the third Australian to win the coveted 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 is the sixth novel from Richard Flanagan, who is considered by many to be one of Australia’s finest novelists. It centres upon the experiences of surgeon Dorrigo Evans in a Japanese POW camp on the now infamous Thailand-Burma railway. The Financial Times calls it ‘elegantly wrought, measured and without an ounce of melodrama… nothing short of a masterpiece.’
Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is 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.