Richard Flanagan biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Richard Flanagan.

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Richard Flanagan
Photo: © Pan Macmillan Australia

Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan Biography

Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later attended the University of Tasmania, graduating with first class honours in 1982.  The following year he was awarded a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University.  He later worked as a laborer and river guide.

He wrote four history books before turning to fiction.  His first novel, the much celebrated Death of a River Guide (1994), tells the tale of Aljaz Cosini, a guide on the Franklin River who lies drowning as he relives his life and the lives of his forbears.  It won major Australian literary prizes including the 1996 National Fiction Award and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as 'one of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing.'

His second novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997), set in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, tells the story of Slovenian immigrants.  It was similarly critically acclaimed and has sold over 150,000 copies in Australia, an unprecedented figure there for a literary novel. It won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Flanagan's first two novels, declared Kirkus Reviews, 'rank with the finest fiction out of Australia since the heyday of Patrick White.'

His third novel, Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (2001), is set at the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station and is based on the life of Billy Gould, a convict artist who has a love affair with a young black woman in 1828.  It won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize in the South East Asia & South Pacific Region.

In addition to Australia and the USA, his novels have been, or will be, published in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Holland, and France. He directed an acclaimed feature film based on The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which had its world premiere in competition at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for best film.

His recent books include The Unknown Terrorist, (2007), set in contemporary Sydney, and Wanting (2008), set in both nineteenth century Tasmania and Britain.

Richard Flanagan lives in Tasmania with his wife and three children.  He is a keen canoeist, having canoed the Franklin River thirteen times, and was a member of the first expedition to canoe the Jane River and Gordon Gorge (one of his nonfiction works is A Terrible Beauty - History of the Gordon (1985).

This biography was last updated on 07/09/2011.

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The Unknown Terrorist
The Unknown Terrorist

by Richard Flanagan

From the internationally acclaimed author of Gould’s Book of Fish comes an astonishing new novel, a riveting portrayal of a society driven by fear
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Richard Flanagan but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Chris Cleave

    Chris Cleave

    Chris Cleave is 35. He is a novelist and a columnist for The Guardian newspaper in London.

    His debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Unknown Terrorist

    Try:
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    by Chris Cleave

  • Nathan Englander

    Nathan Englander

    Nathan Englander is the author of the internationally bestselling story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and the novel The Ministry of Special Cases.His short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Unknown Terrorist

    Try:
    The Ministry of Special Cases
    by Nathan Englander

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