Indigenous Australia, Anzac Day, the descent of democracy – in a National Press Club address Flanagan examines a divided Australia which he says can be free only if it faces up to its past

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I told a friend the other day I was to be speaking here in Canberra today and she told me a joke. A man is doubled over at the front of Parliament House throwing up. A stranger comes up and puts an arm around the vomiting man. I know how you feel, the stranger says.

It’s not a bad joke. But it felt familiar. I went searching my book shelves, and finally found a variation of it in Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, set in communist Czechoslovakia in the dark years after the Prague Spring. In Kundera’s version the two men are standing in Wenceslas Square.

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Read More Richard Flanagan: ‘Our politics is a dreadful black comedy’ – press club speech in full

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