University of Tasmania alumnus, author Richard Flanagan, is "overwhelmed" at being shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.
Hobart-based Flanagan (BA Hons 1983) is one of six finalists vying for the $50,000 first prize, to be revealed at London's Guildhall on October 14. The shortlist is dominated by British writers, of which Howard Jacobson is the bookies' favourite to win.
Flanagan is currently in the midst of a 12-city tour of the US, promoting his shortlisted novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, where it is already in its fourth reprint. He told The Age newspaper today that he was "speechless in Seattle. I'm delighted but it is overwhelming news".
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was one of 154 submitted novels, from which a long list of 13 was announced in July.
During the announcement of the shortlist on Tuesday, 9 September, one of the judges, Dr Alastair Niven, said that Flanagan's book told truths about "cruelty in the name of a cause" and that was "serendipitous considering the age we live in now".
Flanagan's novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish (winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize), The Unknown Terrorist and Wanting have received numerous honours. His father, who died the day Flanagan finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway.
Last year's Booker Prize was won by young New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton for The Luminaries. Previous Australians to be shortlisted include Peter Carey (a winner in 1988 and 2001); Thomas Keneally (the 1982 winner), D.B.C Pierre (2003 winner), the South African-Australian J. M. Coetzee (who won in 1983 and 1999), David Malouf, Tim Winton, Kate Grenville and Steve Toltz.