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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.

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.


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

Flanagan is a beautiful writer and Wanting is a beautiful and considered addition to his oeuvre.

The Age

As usual, Flanagan is brilliant at re-creating this "weird land predating time, with its vulgar rainbow colours, its vile, huge forests and bizarre animals that seemed to have been lost since Adam's exile".

Ron Charles, The Washington Post

In Wanting Richard Flanagan has written an exquisite, profoundly moving, intricately structured meditation about the desire for human connection in its many forms -- that commingling of compassion, curiosity, care, lust, attraction, intrigue, selfishness and selflessness that is clumsily grouped under that most perilous of all abstract nouns: love.

Jon Fasman, Los Angeles Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 1, 2012

    Vintage Australia

    272 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 1, 2011

    RHA eBooks Adult

    274 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2008
    WA Premiers Literary Award
  • 2009
    Queensland Literary Awards
  • 2009
    Miles Franklin Literary Award
  • 2009
    NSW Premier's Literary Awards
  • 2009
    Prime Minister's Literary Awards
  • 2010
    Tasmanian Literary Prizes

Also by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
First Person
Notes on an Exodus
The Australian Disease: On the Decline of Love and the Rise of Non-Freedom: Short Black 1
The Great Australian Writers' Collection 2013
Out of a Wild Sea
Out of a Wild Sea (Storycuts)
The Sound Of One Hand Clapping
Gould's Book Of Fish
Death Of A River Guide
The Unknown Terrorist
And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
Best Laid Plans
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
Fool Me Once
Private Delhi
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Swing Time
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Girls
The Mistress
The Bone Collection
Cold Blood
Fifty Shades Darker
The Trip of a Lifetime