Grove Atlantic Publishing sent Richard Flanagan to Mississippi for the Oxford Conference for the Book in 2000 on his U.S. tour for The Sound of One Hand Clapping. Those were heady times. Larry Brown, William Gay ("Willie" to Richard) and Barry Hannah were all still with us. We found his writing powerful, affecting, and empathetic, while we found Richard to be humble, affectionate and simpatico. Since then, Richard has returned to Oxford for all but one of his six novels; each time building a larger reading audience and making more friends. It has been seven years since we had an event for The Unknown Terrorist, and we were anxious to welcome him back to his spiritual home in the United States.
To make it official, Mayor Pat Patterson issued a proclamation declaring Richard Flanagan an honorary citizen of Oxford and he was given a bag of the best tchotchkes our Tourism Office has to offer. Flanagan went on to speak eloquently about Oxford, about The Narrow Road to the Deep North and his father. The audience was visibly moved and many expressed thanks for the best reading they had ever attended. We are happy to be able to share videos taken during the event here and here. And we were thrilled -- but not surprised -- to find out on September 9th that The Narrow Road to the Deep North is named to the short list for the Man Booker Prize (see the finalists here). We are placing all bets on him.