Winning the Award… Richard Flanagan

I haven’t read the book but I’m now very interested.

There’s something a little broken about the man, Flanagan, I don’t know, maybe it’s the way he recites passages out of his book, part performance (to please an eager audience), combined with the inner confidence that emerges from someone who really has been to the wars. He submerges himself into his words, reading eloquently, passionately, deeply, patiently. Twelve years would certainly teach you something about patience. That’s the length it took him to finally master this Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

It got me thinking, Flanagan dedicated so much to this book, and of course he is a well-worthy winner and from the sounds of things, the book certainly deserves the prize. But I was wondering; is it the award that makes the final judgement? All that hard work, time and effort, the emotions that fly around the ether as the writer or the artist sits in meditation composing herself for the next sentence or the next brushstroke, the disciplined patience required to stay focused, and to remain true to the belief held, in order to break through and win, to succeed. Is all of that verified with an award? I suppose it is on the one hand, after all isn’t this what every artist/writer wants? Because it is only when other’s recognise your work whether it is a small award, or a large one, that for a brief moment, you feel exhilarated, exalted. But then comes reality again, you pick up your paintbrush, your pen. You paint, you write. You’re looking for that hit again. Whatever you do, it isn’t enough. You have to keep going, keep working, keep ploughing away to make that mark over and over again.

Flanagan’s done well, but then again, I think there are so many unrecognised writers deserving of prizes out there too. Who judges and what the judge’s background and opinions are makes a difference to who wins. The Man Booker Prize is a British award which has only just opened up to the rest of the world. We’ll have to wait and see if someone from another nationality wins it in the coming years to really be the judge of the award as an open to all gesture.


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