Richard Flanagan Interview

Lachlan Jobbins, on the "Boomerang Books" weblog, interviews Richard Flanagan, whose new novel, Wanting, is
released at the beginning of November.

The novel touches on a very contentious subject - the extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines at the hands of the Van Diemen's Land colonists. Whether this was a deliberate program of genocide or perhaps ill-intentioned experiment in "civilising" them is still debated. How conscious were you of trying to balance the perspectives of the colonists with contemporary feelings about history?

I was a historian before I was a novelist. No one can read the primary sources of Van Diemonian history without seeing that a war, often pitiless, was waged against Tasmanian Aborigines. Documents of the period are clear about what was happening: at the time it was referred to as a war of "extermination". I wasn't trying to balance past or contemporary feelings about what happened, because I have no doubt what went on. There will forever be a debate about the particular nature of the evil that befell the Tasmanian Aborigines, its causes, its particular nature, its consequences, and such a discussion, such questioning, is a good thing. But only in the distortions of those pursuing ideological vendettas is it possible to claim it did not happen.


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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 14, 2008 9:02 PM.

Australian Bookcovers #133 - Cabin Fever by Elizabeth Jolley was the previous entry in this blog.

2008 Man Booker Prize Winner Announced is the next entry in this blog.

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