First Person

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1020171117

Kif's successful career producing reality TV has left him feeling like a conman.

Kif Kehlmann is a penniless writer. He has never been published. In fact, he hasn't even completed his first novel. But he is committed to literature - great literature.

Kif and his wife Suzy have a young daughter and they are also expecting twins, they can't pay their bills and interest rates are spiralling out of control in early 1990s Australia. So when Kif's best mate Ray, who happens to be minder and bodyguard to Australia's most notorious conman, suggests Kif accepts the job offer of ghostwriting the fraudster's memoir, Kif has a dilemma.

But it doesn't take him long to abandon literature in favour of actually getting a book published - and getting paid. The only problem is they have less than six weeks before Australia's most wanted, Ziggy Heidl, goes on trial - and Ziggy appears pathologically incapable of telling the truth about anything.

First Person is the novel Richard Flanagan began to write just before he won the Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to The Deep North (2014), a novel which was acclaimed by The Guardian as a masterpiece. He has also been described as the greatest Australian writer of his generation.

As a penniless young writer, he accepted the job of ghostwriting the autobiography of Australia's most famous criminal who was about to go on trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million dollars. John Friedrich, the conman, died before he went to trial. Decades later, Flanagan takes this bizarre, real life episode as the starting point for a chilling and at times darkly funny novel about truth and lies and the difference between good and evil.

Written by Richard Flanagan
Abridged by Jill Waters and Isobel Creed
Read by Luke Mullins
Produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.