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  • Published: 31 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761343452
  • Imprint: Knopf Australia
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $35.00

Question 7

Beginning at a love hotel by Japan’s Inland Sea and ending by a river in Tasmania, Question 7 is about the choices we make about love and the chain reaction that follows.

By way of H. G. Wells and Rebecca West’s affair through 1930s nuclear physics to Flanagan's father working as a slave labourer near Hiroshima when the atom bomb is dropped, this daisy chain of events reaches fission when Flanagan as a young man finds himself trapped in a rapid on a wild river not knowing if he is to live or to die.

At once a love song to his island home and to his parents, this hypnotic melding of dream, history, place and memory is about how our lives so often arise out of the stories of others and the stories we invent about ourselves.

  • Published: 31 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761343452
  • Imprint: Knopf Australia
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan was born in Tasmania in 1961. His novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting and The Narrow Road to the Deep North have received numerous honours and are published in 42 countries. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North in 2014.

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Praise for Question 7

Question 7 is Flanagan’s finest book. It is a treatise on the immeasurability of life, reminiscent of the Japanese tradition of mono no aware, the psychological and philosophical sweep of Tolstoy, and enmeshed in a personal essay that is tuned as finely as W. G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn. In the meditative, circular story structure of memoir and history and auto-fiction, replete with nuance and sound thought, Flanagan doesn’t just present Chekhov’s ‘Question 7’ – appearing as a thread, he doesn’t just pull at it but unravels an entire tapestry. He travels to the metaphorical weaver, the shearer, the shepherd, and the hooved animal itself – and reaches into the deepest past where, he is so astute in writing, ‘there is no memory without shame’.

Tara June Winch, Guardian

Flanagan is a literary magician . . . Read this book and revel in the many ‘aha’ moments elicited by the masterful prose.

Sarah L'Estrange, ABC News

Richard Flanagan’s Question 7 is a profoundly moving love song for the writer’s parents, a forensic excavation, a lament, a confession, a jig-saw puzzle in which Hiroshima connects to HG Wells, and the Martians colonise Tasmania. We are all competitive, of course, so this is not an easy thing to say: but Question 7 may just be the most significant work of Australian art in the last 100 years.

Peter Carey, Sydney Morning Herald Best Reads of 2023

Richard Flanagan’s Question 7 is the strangest and most beautiful memoir I’ve ever read. Magnificent.

Tim Winton, Sydney Morning Herald Best Reads of 2023

Sometimes a book is an experience felt almost in the body. Richard Flanagan’s Question 7 is such a book. It holds a life between its covers and while you read, it holds you too. A celebration of all life, it is also a reckoning with the 20th century and what it revealed about us to ourselves. It is intimate, beautiful, unsparing and profound. It nudges at eternity, and then comes back home, to decency and love.

Anna Funder, Sydney Morning Herald Best Reads of 2023

It is not often that a book forces you to put it down repeatedly because you feel shaky. Question 7 did that to me. It is that good.

James McConnachie, Sunday Times

This elegiac, chaptered essay touches on ideas that have haunted his fiction for years . . . Question 7 is Flanagan’s painful and powerful examination of the psychic implications of what it means to be alive directly because so many people died – a deeply existential conundrum that is so very personal and so very universal, that it’s hard to shake.

Sian Cain, Guardian

Question 7 by Richard Flanagan is a memoir about his parents, interwoven with meditations on Tasmania, genocide, colonialism, the atomic bomb, H. G. Wells and Rebecca West . . . it is fiercely alive and genuinely hard to put down. A masterpiece.

Mark Haddon

I was fascinated, troubled and enchanted by this strange and extraordinary work: part memoir, part love letter to the place and people of Tasmania, and part philosophical inquiry into the nature of cause and effect . . . I can think of nothing else quite like it.

Sarah Perry

A brilliant, brilliant book.

James Rebanks

Question 7 is the greatest memoir of parents and place I have read - and this is hardly to touch on its originality. I was amazed by its intense moral and emotional rigour, its power of compassion, the strength and beauty of the prose. I would take it up, read a page, sometimes just a paragraph, and find I had to set it down, dazed, to think about every word and idea before I could even begin to go on. Devastating and beautiful, mighty in its rage and tenderness: [Flanagan's] most momentous book yet.

Laura Cumming, Observer

Question 7 is written with a spectacular mixture of fierce energy and then control, care. It is a kind of reckoning, Richard Flanagan with his father and his mother, Tasmania with its past, Japan with its past, the author with himself. It seems to me a book that will have an overwhelming effect on readers. It certainly did on me.

Colm Tóibín

A masterpiece of subtlety and depth.

Alex Preston, Guardian

Thoughtful and often beautiful, moving without effort between the very big and the apparently very small. Flanagan is a riveting writer.

Literary Review (UK)

A haunting, jagged, sparkling narrative puzzle in which the pieces deliberately refuse to fit.

Kirkus Reviews

Mr Flanagan is a master storyteller.

The Economist

Booker Prize winner Flanagan weaves strands about his parents, Australian history, and the atomic bomb into a mesmerizing narrative tapestry in this dazzling, one-of-a-kind memoir . . . a bracing dreamscape . . . This is masterful.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A dark masterpiece ... a book about Tasmania, about memory, about the legacy of the second world war. It is a deeply personal book that I found mesmerising.

Colm Tóibín, Best Summer Reads 2024, Guardian

I’ve loved Question 7 by Richard Flanagan – he is a writer of such extraordinary imagination and elegance. His latest book is breathtakingly good; it’s astonishing.

Peter Francopan, Best Summer Reads 2024, Guardian

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Question 7 by Richard Flanagan

Beginning at a love hotel by Japan’s Inland Sea and ending by a river in Tasmania, Question 7 is about the choices we make about love and the chain reaction that follows. https://www.penguin.com.au/books/question-7-9781761343452

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