Richard Flanagan was the fifth of six children. He was educated at state schools, leaving school at the age of sixteen to work as a labourer in the bush. He later returned to further his education at the University of Tasmania and went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
In addition to his novels, which have won both national and international acclaim, Flanagan has also published a history of the Tasmanian Green Movement , The Rest of the World Is Watching (1990), with Cassandra Pybus, A Terrible Beauty: History of the Gordon River Country (1985) and On the Mountain (1996), a pictorial and natural history of Mount Wellington, with Jamie Kirkpatrick and photographs by Peter Dombrovskis.
Flanagan's 2014 novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, won the Man Booker Prize. It was also awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for fiction in 2014 alongside Steven Carroll's A World of Other People. He donated the $40,000 to the Indigenous Literacy Fund, saying "If just one of those children in turn becomes a writer, if just one brings to Australia and to the world an idea of the universe that arises out of that glorious lineage of 60,000 years of Australian civilisation, then I will think this prize has rewarded not just me, but us all."
'First Person, Flanagan’s first novel since winning the Man Booker Prize in 2014, is inspired by Flanagan’s real-life experience ghost-writing the memoir of Australian conman Johann Friedrich Hohenberger.
'The novel is written in the first person by reality TV producer Kif Kehlman and details how Kif, as a younger, penniless writer unable to finish his first novel, agrees to ghost write the memoir of a notorious con man, Ziggy Heidl, who has defrauded the banks of $700 million.
'As work gets underway, Kif begins to fear that he is being corrupted by the con man and grows ever more uncertain as to whether he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Ziggy Heidl is rewriting him.
'At the novel’s heart is a question: what is the truth?' (Publication summary)
'A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
'August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.
'This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.' (Publisher's blurb)
'It is 1839. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on an island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense passion.
Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemen's Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklin's expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens's aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions.
Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklin's fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings.
Based on historic events, Wanting is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting.' (Provided by publisher.)