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From the winner of the Man Booker Prize. The bestselling, universally lauded novel of desire and its denial from acclaimed writer Richard Flanagan.

Wanting, Richard Flanagan

From the winner of the Man Booker Prize. The bestselling, universally lauded novel of desire and its denial from acclaimed writer Richard Flanagan.

Van Diemen's Land, 1841. Mathinna, the adopted Aboriginal daughter of the island's governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, sits for her portrait. She is the subject of a grand experiment in civilisation – one that will determine whether science and reason can be imposed in place of savagery and desire.

Years pass. Sir John Franklin disappears on an Arctic expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. England is horrified as reports of cannibalism filter back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, for whom Franklin's story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own soul.

As several lives become entwined, Wanting transforms the classical myth of Leda and the swan into a novel about the ways in which desire – and its denial – shape us all.


2011 WA Premier's Literary Award (Fiction)
2011 Tasmanian Literary Prizes (Tasmanian Content)
2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards
2009 Queensland Literary Awards
2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award
2009 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $19.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781742755120
    Published: 01/02/2012
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
    Extent: 272 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781742744841
    Published: 01/04/2011
    Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult
    Extent: 274 pages
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"One of the best novels of this year" - The Times

"Wanting is a novel you never want to end. As a reader, I can offer no greater accolade" - Canberra Times

"Richard Flanagan's Wanting reminds us that he is one of the most exciting novelists working anywhere, full stop" - The Age

"A haunting and powerful story... Mr Flanagan does a magical job of conjuring his native Tasmania as it must have appeared to English settlers ... And he enlivens his discursive narrative with some dazzling set pieces" - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"What a voice! ... Dickens would have applauded Flanagan's style. There can be no author more passionate or unfettered than Flanagan" - Sydney Morning Herald

"A summary does little justice to the complexities and nuances of this dense and fascinating novel ... There are moments of great power and lyricism in Wanting" - William Boyd, New York Times Book Review

"Flanagan brilliantly excavates historical truth with the light touch of an irresistibly good story, humour, and the wry observance that much of European civilisation depends on not dancing naked in polite drawing rooms." - Rachel Holmes, The Times

"Richard Flanagan is an exemplary case in point. Through his fiction, flat, conformist portraits of individuals become rich and three-dimensional, new witnesses provide fresh testimony about the past, and Tasmania’s silences resound with voices." - New York Times Book Review

"Moving seamlessly through time, across two continents and between three storylines, WANTING is a marvel of precision and cohesion." - The Sun Herald

"This is the best novel I have read this year or expect to read for several more." - Stella Clarke, Sydney Morning Herald

Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His six novels are published in forty-two countries and have received numerous honours, including the 2014 Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. He is the Boisbouvier Chair of Australian Literature at Melbourne University.