‘An Island at the Edge of the World’ Richard Flanagan

What a delight to see a fellow Australian win the Booker Prize for 2014. Only the fourth Australian to do so, Flanagan won the coveted literature prize with his novel ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’. A story set around the Burma Death Railway Camp during the Second World War. Flanagan describes the work as a story about love. It’s his sixth novel and the title is apparently named after the famous Japanese haiku poet Basho. It seems the novel took twelve years to write and according to Flanagan’s own admission he considered seeking a job in the mines to make a living during this time. Flanagan talks about writing being the ‘hardest gig in town’.

What interests me is the devotion to the lived experience of men like his father Archie who were prisoners of war in the Japanese war camp during that appalling time. ‘I had to find a way of seeking and writing the incommunicable’ he says. Flanagan was inspired to write the novel by his Dad who died, aged 98 years, on the very day the book was completed.

A moving story in many ways. Born in Tasmania in 1961, Flanagan in an interview tells of having illiterate grandparents and of not coming from a literary background. And yet, for me the most poignant and beautiful moment was when this humble and brilliant man described his home place.  ‘I came out of a tiny little mining town in the rain forest on an island at the edge of the  world’… 

About Heathermargaret

I'm a writer and the author of Finding Eliza, 2018. I'm currently working on my second novel.
This entry was posted in Education, Life, People, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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