By Conrad Landin in Britain:
Man Booker winner: Prize means I can keep writing
Thursday 16th October 2014
Richard Flanagan reveals poverty endured by writers
THE WINNER of Britain’s most prestigious literary prize was so hard up after writing his acclaimed novel that he considered working down a mine, he has revealed.
Australian novelist Richard Flanagan was awarded the 2014 Man Booker for his depiction of a Japanese prisoner of war camp in The Narrow Road to the Deep North late on Tuesday night.
Speaking backstage at the Guildhall in City of London, Mr Flanagan used his win to draw attention to writers’ little-known struggle for decent pay.
Asked what he would do with his £50,000 prize money, he told the Daily Telegraph: “Do what everyone else does with money: live. I’m not a wealthy man. In essence, this means I can continue to write.
“A year-and-a-half ago when I finished this book, I was contemplating going to get what work I could in the mines in far northern Australia because things had come to such a pass with my writing.
“There’s nothing unusual about that for writers.”
A survey by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society earlier this year found that the average earnings of a professional writer in 2013 were just £11,000 a year — a 29 per cent drop since 2005.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was inspired by Mr Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a prisoner of war working on the notorious Burma-Thailand “death railway” during WWII.
The Australian traveled to Japan and met the brutal camp guards who had been responsible for his father’s incarceration.
Other shortlisted authors included British writers Ali Smith and Howard Jacobson. This was the first year the Booker was open to Americans — it had previously been reserved for Commonwealth writers.