Yesterday, literary fans learned the winner for one major book award while the field for another narrowed.
Author Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize on Oct. 14 for his novel “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” which follows World War II Allied prisoners of war who are put to work building a railway between Thailand and Burma under horrendous conditions – the line would eventually earn the nickname Death Railway. The book was released this past August in America.
According to the Guardian, Flanagan is the third Australian author to pick up the prize.
The author discussed how the book was influenced by the fact that his father worked on the railway.
“I grew up, as did my five siblings, as children of the Death Railway,” he said, according to the Guardian. “We carried many incommunicable things and I realized at a certain point… that I would have to write this book.”
The author is the recipient of £50,000 and said that “this prize money means I can continue to be a writer,” according to the Guardian.
Flanagan receives the prize in the first competition year in which any book published in English and available in the UK was eligible. Before now, only writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Commonwealth countries could take the Man Booker Prize.
As for America’s National Book Award prize, the list of new contenders has been released, with five works now remaining on the list in each category, according to NPR. Ten books had previously made the cut for each topic.
Now for fiction, the books “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr; “An Unnecessary Woman,” by Rabih Alameddine; “Lila,” by Marilynne Robinson; “Redeployment,” by Phil Klay; and “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel are contenders. For nonfiction, “Age of Ambition,” by Evan Osnos; “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast; “The Meaning of Human Existence,” by Edward O. Wilson; “No Good Men Among the Living,” by Anand Gopal; and “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh,” by John Lahr remain options for the prize. For poetry, “Citizen,” by Claudia Rankine; “Faithful and Virtuous Night,” by Louise Gluck; “The Feel Trio,” by Fred Moten; “Second Childhood,” by Fanny Howe; and “This Blue,” by Maureen N. McLane made the shortlist. For young people’s literature, “Brown Girl Dreaming,” by Jacqueline Woodson; “Noggin,” by John Corey Whaley; “The Port Chicago 50,” by Steve Sheinkin; “Revolution,” by Deborah Wiles; and “Threatened,” by Eliot Schrefer are still options for the prize.
The National Book Award winners will be announced on Nov. 19.