ANZAC Challenge January 2015- Richard Flanagan and Fiona Kidman

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ANZAC Challenge January 2015- Richard Flanagan and Fiona Kidman

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1jll1976
jan 2, 2015, 9:37pm

ANZAC Author Reading Challenge- Main Thread Link



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.

2jll1976
jan 2, 2015, 9:40pm



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.

3jll1976
Redigerat: jan 2, 2015, 9:55pm

4PaulCranswick
jan 2, 2015, 9:48pm

It is Richard Flanagan for me this month Jacqui. I'll be starting Wanting as early as Monday I would surmise.

5jll1976
Redigerat: jan 2, 2015, 9:56pm

>4 PaulCranswick: That's great! Enjoy!

6jll1976
Redigerat: jan 2, 2015, 10:10pm



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.

7jll1976
Redigerat: jan 2, 2015, 10:13pm

8jll1976
jan 2, 2015, 10:20pm

I'm about a quarter through The Infinite Air. So, far it's an interesting look at New Zealand in the early 20th century. It is a weird blend of frontier society, with strong links to 'King and country.' But very modern too with the early adoption of women's suffrage (New Zealand have the distinction of being first in the world) and a growing idea of female emancipation in general.

I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

9drneutron
jan 2, 2015, 10:35pm

Added this thread to the group wiki!

10jll1976
jan 2, 2015, 10:41pm

>9 drneutron: Thanks :)

11lkernagh
jan 3, 2015, 1:14pm

I am looking forward to reading House Within by Kidman. The only Flanagan book I have read so far is Wanting, which I thought was a really good piece of historical fiction.

12Crazymamie
jan 4, 2015, 12:19pm

I am currently reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North and really loving it. I have In a Clear Light (I think this one is also titled Paddy's Puzzle some places) requested from the library, but I don't know if it will come in on time or not.

13jll1976
jan 6, 2015, 5:50am

I finished The Infinite Air this morning. A more in depth review is in progress. I will say though that this was okay. While I have read better, I have also read much much worse. It's an interesting biographical novel about a fascinating women.

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.

14ipsoivan
jan 16, 2015, 7:39am

oops, I missed this thread.

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.

15evilmoose
jan 19, 2015, 3:52pm

I just finished Gould's Book of Fish, and wasn't a huge fan - I'm feeling a little bit guilty about not enjoying it more, and I think it was partly because I listened to the audiobook version. It was read by Humphrey Bower, an Australian actor who read it in an Irish accent. It made my ears wince. The literary thrashings of the book felt contrived - I didn't care that there was an unreliable narrator, brutal and sordid elements, mad ramblings, and an unresolved ending. But it felt tedious, pretentious, unnecessarily clever, as if Flanagan wanted to impress me with his brilliance. And instead of feeling impressed I felt irritated. Which is not to say it's a bad book, as I've heard others say the same thing about books I love, and there are obviously plenty of people who love this one. There were elements of the story I objectively thought were fascinating. But all things considered, my enjoyment levels were pretty low throughout.

I'm still glad I've finally gotten around to reading some Flanagan though!

16LoisB
jan 19, 2015, 4:58pm

I'm currently reading Narrow Road to the Deep North. It started slow but picked up as I got into it.

17LoisB
jan 20, 2015, 11:02pm

I finally finished Narrow Road to the Deep North. The story covers three periods - the time leading up to deployment in the WW II Pacific theater, imprisonment in a Japanese POW camp, and a wrap-up of the major characters lives. The pre-war story was slow-paced and almost caused me to abandon the book. The POW camp experience was detailed, shocking and gruesome. The final portion was sad, intriguing, and thought-provoking. It was a good novel, but not something that I would read again.

18nittnut
jan 22, 2015, 9:34pm

>17 LoisB: I am struggling with this book. I don't like any of the characters and I am not really getting into it. I am about half way through...

19LoisB
Redigerat: jan 22, 2015, 11:01pm

>18 nittnut: The last part of the book is the best. I did find the POW camp portion to be too gruesome for my taste. I agree about not finding the characters likeable. I think you have to stop looking at their human flaws and just look at them as warriors - that helped me to "like" Dorrigo Evans a little better.

20nittnut
jan 23, 2015, 7:51pm

I've finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North. I didn't like it. I agree that the last half was the best. As horrific as the conditions in the POW camp were, and as unpleasant as it was reading about it, this is the only time Dorrigo is at all likable. He's one of the most nihilistic characters I've ever read, and at least in the camp, he takes a break from destroying relationships and just focuses on trying to save lives. I am curious to know how personal this story was for the author. I read that his father was a POW in Burma.

21LoisB
jan 23, 2015, 8:58pm

I understand your point. His time in the POW camp was the only time that he acted selflessly.

22Fourpawz2
Redigerat: jan 24, 2015, 12:44pm

Had to return Flanagan's Death of a River Guide to the library at the 48 page mark. Could. Not. Bring. Myself. To. Open. It. One. More. Time.

Instead I have taken out Fiona Kidman's In the Clear Light from the library and am enjoying it much more than my original choice for January.

23banjo123
jan 24, 2015, 6:29pm

here is an interesting interview with Flanagan.

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.

24nittnut
jan 24, 2015, 7:57pm

>23 banjo123: Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

25dallenbaugh
jan 27, 2015, 10:26pm

I won't have time to read a Richard Flanagan novel this month although I have read a couple of his books in the past Sound of One Hand Clapping and The Unknown Terrorist both of which I enjoyed. But I did just finish a Fiona Kidman novel Paddy's Puzzle which I thought was quite good. The U.S. version is called "In the Clear Light". It's great to be introduced to a new author and I look forward to reading more of her work.

26Fourpawz2
jan 28, 2015, 10:28am

I, too, have finished Paddy's Puzzle and it was a much better fit for me than my Flanagan that did not work for me at all. Judging from this book, I would be very happy to read more of her work, but I'll have to buy anything else that I read of hers as my library carried just this one book. Such a shame as she is really very good.

Time to order my book for February...