Thursday, 16 October 2014

Richard Flanagan

has just won the Man Booker for his book, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North".
I have not read the book - and I am not sure I want to. I won't be buying a copy. I won't add to Mr Flanagan's prize money. I don't think I like him enough for that.
Mr Flanagan was, quite naturally, interviewed after winning the prize. That was to be expected.
In the course of that interview Mr Flanagan made it clear that he does not like the present Prime Minister of Australia or the government he leads. There are many other people, particularly in the media, who have expressed the same point of view.  Mr Flanagan then went on to say that he was "ashamed to be Australian".
Well, I am sorry Mr Flanagan but the government is not Australia and it is not all Australians. In saying you are "ashamed" to be an Australian you are insulting all Australians. You are insulting the memory of your father and all men like him. They are the men who were forced to work on the Burma railway - the very thing you are writing about in your book. Many of them gave their lives so you could live in Australia as it is now and not under Japanese rule. They made it possible for you to write that book - and win that prize. 
I have no strong nationalist feelings. I don't feel, and never have felt, strongly about being "Australian". I don't talk about it. It is just the way I am. Nobody in my family could be accused of being "flag wavers". However we are happy to associate with the country which houses us, feeds us and cares for us. We have all tried to acknowledge that and do something in return.
It doesn't bother me if Mr Flanagan has no strong nationalist feelings. What does bother me is that he is saying, "I feel ashamed at my association with the country which houses me, feeds me and cares for me."
You don't need to be a flag waver Mr Flanagan - but telling people you are ashamed to be Australian is rejecting a lot more than the government of the day.

1 comment:

virtualquilter said...

Without his father and his comrades the book could have been written in Japanese.
Yes, he insulted all of us, and his father, who inspired the book which won him the prize, is sadly included.