Richard Flanagan
Australian author Richard Flanagan, who wrote "The Narrow Road to the Deep North," speaks after winning the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction at the Guildhall in London, Oct. 14, 2014. Reuters/Alastair Grant/Pool

Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker prize for his novel, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.” The 53-year-old author is the third Australian to win the prize.

The Tasmanian-born author won the $79, 530 award for his sixth novel, which is based on the prisoners and captors of the Thailand-Burma "Death Railway" in World War II. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, presented the trophy to Flanagan at a ceremony in Guildhall, London. This year, the Booker Prize Foundation opened up the prestigious award to writers beyond the U.K. and Commonwealth nations for the first time in its 46-year history, allowing American authors to participate.

"I'm not a wealthy man so in essence this means I can continue to write," Flanagan told reporters after winning the prize, according to Reuters.

"A year and a half ago when I finished this book I was contemplating going to get what work I could in a mine in far northern Australia because things had come to such a pass with my writing, I had spent so long on this book," he reportedly said. Flanagan worked on the book for 12 years.

The Financial Times called the book “elegantly wrought, measured and without an ounce of melodrama. … nothing short of a masterpiece.” AC Grayling, the jury chairman, said that the book was "an absolutely superb novel" and "a great work of literature."

“The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war. Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism,” Grayling said about the book, in a statement. “This is the book that Richard Flanagan was born to write.”

Two American authors -- Karen Joy Fowler for "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" and Joshua Ferris for "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour” -- were among those shortlisted as nominees for the prize. Other books on the short list were "J" by Howard Jacobson, "The Lives of Others" by Neel Mukherjee and "How to be Both" by Ali Smith.