Richard Flanagan – I’ve Imagined the Post-Booker Interview so that The Mail Doesn’t Have To.

I’m lucky enough to have an entirely imaginary Richard Flanagan (IRF) sitting at my kitchen table with an entirely imaginary journalist (IJ), and I’m witnessing the Post-Man Booker interview we’ve all been waiting for.
IJ: So, Richard – can I call you Richard? – congratulations on winning the Man Booker this year. We know your novel must be really good, because it’s just won the Man Booker, so shall we move on?
IRF: Well, I do have some things to say about the novel. It’s been said recently that the novel is dead or dying, but I don’t agree with that. In my acceptance speech, I said that novels are one of our greatest spiritual, aesthetic and intellectual inventions…,
IJ: Talking of aesthetics, I noticed that you wore traditional black tie to the awards ceremony. Interesting choice. Were you told what to wear, or did you decide to keep it predictable so that we could all focus on your work (which we know is good, because it’s just won the Man Booker)?
IRF: I’m not sure that really matters. As I was saying, novels are life…
IJ: But surely you included a cheeky individual detail in your outfit? Like one of those ties in the Presents for Men catalogue that looks conservative on the front but actually has a scantily-clad 1950s poster girl printed on the reverse? Can I call you Ritchie, like in Happy Days?
IRF: I was wearing a bow tie. And…
IJ: And what a style statement that is. Are you expecting the sales of bow ties to go up as a result?
IRF: I genuinely haven’t given it a moment’s thought.
IJ: Who did your hair for the ceremony?
IRF: I’m bald.
IJ: So should we all invest in a head razor? What brand would you recommend? Will you be looking for a sponsorship deal?
IRF: No.
IJ: So you’re already in a committed relationship, right?
IRF: Yes, and I want to pay tribute to my beloved Majda, who has travelled with me through many dark times…
IJ: Hands off, girls, he’s taken! Perhaps you could take the edge off our disappointment by telling us the secret to keeping a relationship going AND being a writer? Do you have date nights? Or a romantic meal you cook when Majda gets annoyed with you for writing all the time?
IRF: Er…
IJ: And what about children? Have you got any, and if so, how do you manage to look after them AND your partner AND write a great long novel all about a rather nasty war? Doesn’t it upset them to have you thinking about such unpleasant things? I mean, I’m not sure I’d want my parents writing about people’s wounds rotting in jungles and death by starvation.
IRF: I’m really not sure that’s relevant.
IJ: Are you saying you don’t have any children? That’s interesting. Is it a choice you’ve made so you could focus on your career, and if so do you feel an empty gaping hole at the core of your life where your self-definition should be? Can I call you Dick?
IRF: No. Can we talk about The Narrow Road to the Deep North?
IJ: What, the M1?
IRF: No. My novel. The one that’s just won the Man Booker Prize.
IJ: You are going on about that quite a bit, you know. Do you feel insecure in your success? I mean, do you think you really deserve to win something like this? I expect you feel a bit like an imposter who’s about to be found out. Who do you think should have won it?
IRF: All the shortlisted novels were great achievements. I felt honoured to be the company of such wonderful writers.
IJ: So you’re jealous of them?
IRF: Not at all. I admire them all enormously.
IJ: But you won?
IRF: Yes. Yes, I did.
IJ: Well, it’s not terribly attractive to hark on about it, you know. I’m surprised your grandmother never taught you that.
IRF: My grandparents were illiterate. I think that shows the possibility of the novel, and of writing, and of the power of words…
IJ: Well. Quite. I’m glad you feel so good about yourself. Good luck with that dark gaping hole in your life.
IRF: Are all my interviews going to be like this?
IJ: Probably not, actually. I’ve just realised that you’re not Ali Smith or Karen Joy Fowler.

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