This is the first year that American authors have been eligible for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, but their feared domination did not materialize: The prize has been won by Australian writer Richard Flanagan with The Narrow Road to the Deep North, set during the construction of the Burma Death Railway in World War II, the AP reports. Two American writers—Joshua Ferris with To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and Karen Joy Fowler with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves—were among the six finalists for the prize, which is now open to all authors writing in English instead of just those from the British Commonwealth.
The book is the sixth by the 53-year-old Flanagan, who drew upon his father's experiences in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. The book is dedicated to his father, "Prisoner 335," who died at the age of 98 the day Flanagan finished the novel, reports the BBC. Philosopher AC Grayling, chair of the panel of judges, praised Flanagan's "magnificent novel of love and war" and its "profoundly intelligent humanity," saying "the best and worst of judging books is when you come across one that kicks you so hard in the stomach like this that you can't pick up the next one in the pile for a couple of days." Flanagan is the third Australian to win the prize, which was won last year by New Zealander Eleanor Catton. With The Luminaries, the 28-year-old set Booker records for the youngest winner and the longest book.