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It is 1839. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on an island at the centre of the world, the most famous velist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense passion. Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then goverr of Van Diemen's Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, Sir John disappears into the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North-West Passage, and a decade later Lady Jane enlists Dickens' aid to put an end to the scandalous suggestions that Sir John's expedition ended in cannibalism. Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklin's fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally longer able to control his own passion and the consequences it brings. Based on historic events, Wanting is a vel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting.
RICHARD FLANAGAN was born in Tasmania in 1961. Regarded internationally as one of Australia's best novelists, his multi-award-winning novels, DEATH OF A RIVER GUIDE, THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING, GOULD'S BOOK OF FISH, THE UNKNOWN TERRORIST, and WANTING have been published to popular success and critical acclaim in twenty-five countries. His most recent novel, WANTING, won the 2009 QLD Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, the 2008 WA Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, The 2011 Tasmanian Book Prize, was a 2008 New Yorker Notable Book, 2008 Library Journal Notable Book, 2008 London Observer Book of the Year, and 2008 Washington Post Book of the Year. It was also shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award. He directed a feature film version of THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING. His most recent work is a collection of his nonfiction pieces, AND WHAT DO YOU DO, MR GABLE?. He lives in Hobart with his family.
Shortlisted for Miles Franklin Literary Award 2009.