Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour has won the 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize, worth £30,000, beating out a shortlist that included 2013 Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Baileys Prizewinner Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Kseniya Melnik‘s debut Snow in May, Kei Miller‘s The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, Owen Sheers’ Mametz, and Naomi Wood‘s Mrs Hemingway. To Rise was also named to the 2014 Man Booker Shortlist but ultimately bowed to Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North beat out To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, J by Howard Jacobson, The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, and How to be Both by Ali Smith to win the 2014 Man Booker Prize, worth £50,000. According to BBC.com, the chair of judges AC Grayling said he and his fellow jurors debated for three hours before reaching a majority decision. “The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war,” Grayling said.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Flanagan’s sixth novel, is inspired by Flanagan’s father. A Japanese prisoner of war in the 1940s, the elder Flanagan was forced to help build the Death Railway between Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma in 1943 to support Japanese forces. Over 100,000 people died in construction of the railway.
“He trusted me, he never asked me what the story was,” Flanagan told the BBC. The book took him 12 years to finish. “But I did talk to him often about very small things. What the mud was like, what the smell of a rotting tropical ulcer that had eaten through to the shin bone exactly was. What a tiny ball of sour rice would taste like when you’re starving, what starvation felt like in your belly and your brain.”
The day he finished the novel, Flanagan’s father, 98, died.
This was the first year the Man Booker Prize was open to English Language writers outside the Commonwealth. The Tasmania-born author remarked “In Australia the Man Booker is sometimes seen as something of a chicken raffle. I just didn’t expect to end up the chicken.”
The 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist boasts an emergent literati. Contender Eleanor Catton’s much lauded novel The Luminaries won the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing took the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Kseniya Melnik‘s debut Snow in May earned a longlist nod for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Kei Miller‘s The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Owen Sheers’ Mametz has inspired an exhibit at the National Theatre of Wales. Naomi Wood‘s Mrs Hemingway nabbed the 2014 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour was just named to the 2014 Man Booker Shortlist.
Peter Stead, founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, said the celebrated writers on the list “indicates the extent to which the International Dylan Thomas Prize has earned its place at the forefront of world literature.”
The Dylan Thomas Prize is run by Swansea University and awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. Swansea was Dylan Thomas’ hometown. The prize’s eponymous poet would have been 100 this year.
The winner will be announced in November 2014 at a gala in Swansea in Wales.
The 2014 Man Booker longlist has been whittled down from 13 to the six titles on the shortlist. 2014 is the first year authors of any title written in English are eligible–a change that was received with fear that Commonwealth writers would be edged out. Three Brits, two Americans, and one Australian made the cut under the new rules:
The 2014 Man Booker Longlist is here. For the first time, the prize is open to any title written in English (rather than just English and Commonwealth Writers); a change that was received with some grumbling for fear that future judges would privilege North American sensibilities. The longlist features six Britons, four Americans, two Irish writers, and one Australian: