Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Penguin Random House


A young and penniless writer, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghost write his memoir in six weeks. As he writes, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl—and who is Kif Kehlmann?

About the author


Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan was born in Tasmania in 1961. His novels Death of a River GuideThe Sound of One Hand ClappingGould's Book of FishThe Unknown TerroristWanting 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.

Judges’ comments

First Person by Richard Flanagan is a powerful and comic examination of the life of a writer. Flanagan takes us inside the mind of the writer as he tries to understand his craft, his subject and the world in which he writes. The author's alter ego, Kif Kehlmann, is commissioned to ghost write the memoir of a con man and the intersection of his life with that of his subject provides the momentum for an exploration of morality, capitalism and contemporary times. The loss of moral certitude in the face of financial reward looms large. Flanagan takes it all on in this compellingly biting satire.