Young and penniless, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghostwrite his memoir in six weeks.
Kehlmann accepts but soon begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. Is he ghostwriting a memoir, or is Heidl is rewriting him? As the deadline draws closer everything that is certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Ziggy Heidl - and who is Kif Kehlmann?
First Person is both comic and frightening. At times I caught a glimpse of Money-era Martin Amis in Flanagan’s satirical asides on the Australian publishing industry… And there’s a hint, too, of an epochal gloom that is redolent of the The Great Gatsby. Yet there are also passages touched with the virtuosity that shone so brightly in The Narrow Road that are pure Flanagan… Studded with sharp, breath-catching observations about the finite nature of life
The novel, with its switch backing recollections and cyclical dialogue, its penetrating scenes of birth and, eventually, death, is enigmatic and mesmerizing
Perhaps the most prodigal account of writer’s block ever written… Despite some sprightly satirical sallies, mostly about publishing, First Person is a serious treatment of important modern issues (corporate corruption, exploitation of trust, the impudent dismissal of truth)
A black comedy about the unreliability of memory and the warped values of modern publishing... the beauty of First Person is the way it blossoms into a much richer novel than that outline scenario suggests.... readable and thought-provoking
A dark, occasionally demented book, that is as unsettling as it is inspired
'A life isn't an onion to be peeled, a palimpsest to be scraped back to some original, truer meaning. It's an invention that never ends.'
Journalist Kim Forrester looks back at Richard Flanagan, considered ‘Australia’s best kept secret’ until he won the Man Booker Prize in 2014