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Portrait of an author: Richard Flanagan

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-03-2017 Rohit Chawla

Richard Flanagan

Australian novelist, film-maker, winner, Man Booker Prize 2014

Last published: ‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North’ (2013)

That must have been 1915 or 1916. He would have been one or two. Shadows came later in the form of a forearm rising up, its black outline leaping in the greasy light of a kerosene lantern. Jackie Maguire was sitting in the Evanses’ small dark kitchen, crying. No one cried then, except babies. Jackie Maguire was an old man, maybe forty, perhaps older, and he was trying to brush the tears away from his pockmarked face with the back of his hand. Or was it with his fingers?

Only his crying was fixed in Dorrigo Evans’ memory. It was a sound like something breaking. Its slowing rhythm reminded him of a rabbit’s hind legs thumping the ground as it is strangled by a snare, the only sound he had ever heard that was similar. He was nine, had come inside to have his mother look at a blood blister on his thumb, and had little else to compare it to. He had seen a grown man cry only once before, a scene of astonishment when his brother Tom returned from the Great War in France and got off the train. He had swung his kitbag onto the hot dust of the siding and abruptly burst into tears.

—From The Narrow Road To The Deep North (Penguin Random House, 2013)

A 12-part series of portraits selected for Lounge by Rohit Chawla, who has photographed over 200 authors at the Jaipur Literature Festival over a decade. His exhibition, The Inspired Frame, by Tasveer is showingat Bikaner House, Delhi, till 18 March.

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