ANZAC Challenge January 2015- Richard Flanagan and Fiona Kidman
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Now that 2015 has started it's time to get stuck into all those fabulous antipodean authors.
First up we have Richard Flanagan from Australia and Fiona Kidman representing New Zealand.
2014 was a sensational for Australian author Richard Flanagan. His novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North won just about every literary that was going, including the big one the Man Booker Prize. The Narrow Road... was his sixth novel.
Prior to moving into fiction, Flanagan cut his teeth so to speak in the non-fiction realm. He is also a respected journalist of some repute who has written for numerous publications, including his article "Gunns. Out of Control" written for The Monthly.
Dame Fiona Kidman DNZM OBE (born 26 March 1940 in Hawera, New Zealand), is a New Zealand novelist, poet, scriptwriter and short story author. Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society.
Kidman is active in the literary community, serving as the national president of PEN from 1981 to 1983 and as the president of the New Zealand Book Council from 1992 to 1995.
The Captive Wife was runner-up for the Deutz Medal and won the Readers' Choice award at the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
In the 1988 New Year Honours, Kidman was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to literature. She was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 1998 New Year Honours for services to literature.
I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.
I must admit I'd never heard of Jean Batten. (Maybe the Kiwi's amongst us can shed some light.) After reading this, I'm not sure I LIKE her, but I do agree that she was brave and an pioneer. I guess that ultimately being liked is for we mere mortals, while the extraordinary ones as busy doing other things.
I finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North a couple of days ago; I thought it was amazingly good. For those who have not read it, I do not want to give anything away, but the little that I had read about the book did not compel. I'm grateful to the challenge for overcoming my issues with reading such grim material. It is grim, but ultimately so rewarding.
Here is a quote from near the end that captures some of the essence of what this book does:
His mind slowly distilled his memory of the POW camps into something beautiful. It was as if he were squeezing out the humiliation of being a slave, drop by drop. First he forgot the horror of it all, later the violence done to them by the Japanese. In his old age he could honestly say he could recall no acts of violence....Then his memory of the sickness and the wretched deaths, the cholera and the beri-beri and the pellagra, that too went; even the mud went, and later so too the memory of the hunger. And finally one afternoon he realised he could remember none of his time as a POW at all. His mind was still good; he knew he had once been a POW as he knew he had once been a foetus. But of that experience nothing remained. What did was an irrevocable idea of human goodness, as undeniable as it was beautiful. At the age of ninety-four he was finally a free man.
I'm still glad I've finally gotten around to reading some Flanagan though!
I ended up really loving A Narrow Road to the Deep North. I though Dorrigo was a fabulous character; kind of a womanizer, of course, but after all, that's human. The Japanese POW parts were hard, but from what I have read elsewhere, pretty accurate. I liked the way he explored the effects of the camps from all sides.
Time to order my book for February...