Tasmania | 2005
Richard Flanagan was born in 1961, descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) during the Great Famine. He left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. His first novel, Death of a River Guide won the 1996 National Fiction Award. His second novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Gould’s Book of Fish, his third novel, won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize. His feature film, based on The Sound of One Hand Clapping, was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.
I came to a Santa Maddalena covered in snow. Sitting in the top of the tower, looking out over a white quiet Valdarno, I wrote a 40,000 word first draft of a novel in six weeks, something I’ve never done before and doubt I’ll ever do again. Give my fondest to Nilanta and Nilminy and family, Brigida and the mad bad Baronessa, whose bizarre creation it all is, and for whom I retain an inexplicable fondness. As for the dogs, the only pity was the lack of a rifle. Everything else is anecdote.