First Person by Richard Flanagan

Review published on October 11, 2017.

Down under with the underground in 1970s Australia and the world of publishing are revealed in this novel by the award winning writer Richard Flanagan.

This was the first novel I had read by him and he has a good descriptive style. Kif Kehlmann, the central character, is a struggling writer earning little in lowly jobs to support his partner Suzy (expecting twins) and their three-year-old daughter Bo in Tasmania.

When Kif is contacted by old friend (and partner in adventure and some illegal jaunts in their younger days) Ray asking if would he help Ray’s ‘boss’ Siegfried Heidl write his memoirs, Kif is initially reluctant. Such writing would ruin his reputation. Then Kif is offered 10,000 by the publisher Gene Paley and is drawn into the strange world that Heidl inhabits.

Is he a Walter Mitty character who has used his criminal world to create a vacuous personality but powerful control on some influential people? Or is Heidl through his inability to face his past revealing more to Kif than he can in reality put into print? With six weeks to write the book, will Kif complete this job?

This is not naturally a book I would have read, it is well written with some interesting characters but not on my list top of novels.

I’m not sure book clubs would be keen on this as much as a personal read. It’s probably more of a male read too. It is a shame it doesn’t give more of a feel for Australia/Tasmania beyond the bars and the dives in the world Kif gets sucked into.

Philipa Coughlan 3/3

First Person by Richard Flanagan
Chatto & Windus 9781784742195 hbk Nov 2017

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