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The Narrow Road to the Deep North : Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize - Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

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Published: 23rd September 2013
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Booktopia Comments

Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

Shortlisted for the 2014 Miles Franklin Award

Book Description

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

Read Caroline Baum Review

When Richard Flanagan produces a new book, you know it will come freighted with Big Themes. As an essayist, Flanagan is political, provocative, passionate. As a novelist, he is capable of shape-shifting across genres, from high literary gothic to popular psychological thriller.

His latest novel is as eloquent and powerful an affirmation of his empathy and understanding of humanity as anything he's ever written. An elegy to the men of the Thai Burma railroad and their Japanese masters, it's a book about so many things: brutality, barbarity, tenderness, regret, heroism, friendship, betrayal, the manufacturing of national heroism and the mythologizing of one man as a symbol for a nation's pain and pride.

Basing his central character Dorrigo Evans on that of legendary war hero and surgeon Weary Dunlop is a bold move, Dunlop is a sacrosanct figure in Australia's war narrative, an untouchable icon of sacrifice, honour, resilience and courage.

Evans is flawed, with a weakness for women in general and one woman in particular, allowing Flanagan to contrast the prisoner-of-war chapters with flashbacks to moments of stolen intimacy for some relief from the relentless sadism and degradation.

PS the new Colin Firth film, The Railway Man seems to explore similar territory. The two might make interesting, if harrowing, companions.

About the Author

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His novels, Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting have received numerous honours and are published in twenty-six countries. He directed a feature film version of The Sound of One Hand Clapping. A collection of his essays is published as And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
 
4.8

(based on 10 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (8)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well written (9)
  • Engaging characters (8)
  • Deserves multiple readings (6)
  • Easy to read (6)
  • Page-turner (5)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Older readers (6)
    • Gift (4)
    • Travel reading (4)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Everyday reader (7)

    Reviewed by 10 customers

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    4.0

    Should be on the year 12 reading list

    By Al

    from Brisbane

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Easy To Read
    • Informative
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Older Readers

      Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

      Very satisfying read highlighting an important aspect of Australian, and Japanese, war history. I was left refecting on the different codes of honour between the POWs, their Japanese captors and ordinary Australain civilian life.

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      An outstanding literary achievement

      By Bella-freddie

      from Melbourne, AU

      About Me Bookworm

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Easy To Read
      • Engaging characters
      • Insightful
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

          This book, written by the acclaimed Tasmanian writer, Richard Flanagan, adds to a list of internationally recognised body of work. He takes the reader through the experiences of POW soldiers building the Burma-Siam railway during WWII. The story has sensitive, yet powerful intertwining story lines and describes with shattering accuracy the horrors of warfare and its uselessness.

          Comment on this review

           
          5.0

          Brilliant Read; took it on holiday down!

          By Papa Tom

          from Melbourne AU

          About Me Everyday Reader

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Deserves Multiple Readings
          • Engaging characters
          • Well Written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Older Readers
            • Travel Reading

            Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

            A real insight into war from every prospective captors and prisoners.. and the Japanese perspective of the World at that time....excellent !!

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            Australian history revealed

            By Ms CDL

            from Melbourne AU

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Easy To Read
            • Engaging characters
            • Informative
            • Page-Turner
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Travel Reading

              Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

              This was a fantastic book, the main character is despisable and likeable all at once. The setting of a time in Australia's history was informative and I learnt more about our history by reading this book. Underlying is the theme of the human condition and all its permeations that made this book un put downable!

              Comment on this review

               
              5.0

              Great read.

              By Fiona

              from Sunshine Coast

              About Me Bookworm

              Pros

              • Easy To Read
              • Engaging characters
              • Page-Turner
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                  Very engaging read.
                  Made me think very hard about POW's and what they experienced and try to fathom how they adjusted when they got home. These men are hero's.
                  I recommend this book to all Australians.

                  Comment on this review

                  (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Couldn't put it down - best read for age

                  By I don't have a nickname

                  from Rural Sydney

                  About Me Everyday Reader

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Read
                  • Engaging characters
                  • Page-Turner

                  Cons

                  • Need Your Tissues In Part
                  • Not One For The Teens

                  Best Uses

                  • A Lazy Day And This Book
                  • Older Readers
                  • Travel Reading

                  Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                  There is no happy end - just a terrific read all the way through.

                  Comment on this review

                  (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  An Australian classic

                  By Cooky

                  from Wollongong

                  About Me Everyday Reader

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Deserves Multiple Readings
                  • Engaging characters
                  • Informative
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                      Flanagan's novel opens up Australia's POW experiences in WW2 in a heartbreaking and vivid drama. The impact on our soldiers during and after comes to life in an unforgettable form.

                      Comment on this review

                      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      page turner

                      By loonette

                      from melbourne au

                      About Me Casual Reader

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Engaging characters
                      • Page-Turner
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Older Readers

                        Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                        Just new to ordering on your site. I have found service excellant

                        Comment on this review

                        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        An inspirational book.

                        By Constant Reader

                        from Brisbane

                        About Me Everyday Reader

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Deserves Multiple Readings
                        • Easy To Read
                        • Engaging characters
                        • Informative
                        • Page-Turner
                        • Well Written

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Gift
                          • Older Readers

                          Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                          One of the best books I have read. Beautiful writing from a masterful story-teller. I was moved to tears and gasped in amazement, both at the horrors depicted and the beauty of the prose. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.

                          Comment on this review

                          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          5.0

                          Addictive Read

                          By All round reader M

                          from Brunswick East AU

                          About Me Everyday Reader

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Deserves Multiple Readings
                          • Well Written

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Gift
                            • Older Readers
                            • Travel Reading

                            Comments about The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

                            One of the most engaging reads that time passes without notice.... would highly recommend this book and writer to all ages......

                            Comment on this review

                            Displaying reviews 1-10

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                            'Richard Flanagan is one of the most exciting novelists working anywhere, full stop.' - The Age

                             'Flanagan can stop a reader's breath.' - Los Angeles Times

                             'Mr Flanagan is a master of sleight of hand, adept at using words to conjure worlds, an indefatigable artist.' - The New York Times

                            ISBN: 9781741666700
                            ISBN-10: 1741666708
                            Audience: General
                            Format: Paperback
                            Language: English
                            Number Of Pages: 480
                            Published: 23rd September 2013
                            Publisher: Random House Australia
                            Dimensions (cm): 23.1 x 15.5  x 3.8
                            Weight (kg): 0.63

                            Richard Flanagan

                            Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. His first novel is the much celebrated Death of a River Guide (available from Grove Press), which won major Australian literary prizes including the 1996 National Fiction Award and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as "one of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing."

                            His second novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (available from Grove Press), was similarly critically acclaimed and has sold over 150,000 copies in Australia, an unprecedented figure there for a literary novel. It won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Flanagan's first two novels, declared Kirkus Reviews, "rank with the finest fiction out of Australia since the heyday of Patrick White." Gould's Book of Fish, his third novel, won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize in the South East Asia & South Pacific Region.

                            In addition to Australia and the USA, his novels are being published in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Holland, and France. He directed an acclaimed feature film based on The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which had its world premiere in competition at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for best film. He lives in Tasmania with his wife and three children.

                            Visit Richard Flanagan's Booktopia Author Page