Speed Reads


Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker Prize

The Australian writer Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a historical novel set during World War II about Allied prisoners of war forced by the Japanese army to construct the so-called Death Railway between Thailand and Burma.

This was the first year that the Booker had opened the competition to American writers, causing some hand-wringing about the changing identity of the prize, which used to be reserved for English language books by writers from the British Commonwealth, Zimbabwe, and Ireland.

Earlier this year, Flanagan gave The Week a list of seven literary works that influenced his writing of The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

Paul Celan's "Todesfuge" ("Death Fugue") for language (and the ability of its inabilities).

Anton Chekhov's "Lady with Lapdog" for love (and the lack of language for it).

Vasily Grossman's Forever Flowing for humanity (and the excess of it in evil).

Leo Tolstoy's "Hadji Murad" for structure (and the need to go beyond it).

Tom Stoppard's Arcadia for joy (and talk, here the same).

Joseph Conrad's "An Outpost of Progress" for the vanity of moral belief in life (and the power of a moral basis in art).

Ryonosuke Akutagawa's Rashomon for the impossibility of truth (and its utter necessity).

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Flanagan's sixth book.