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The Narrow Road to the Deep North MP3 CD – August 12, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


''Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Australian author Flanagan has anticipated writing this novel much of his life, working on it for twelve years and completing it on the day his father died. His father had been a survivor of a Japanese POW camp and the brutal building of the Thai-Burma death railway, famously depicted in The Bridge on the River Kwai, as is the protagonist here. In the POW camp, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans struggles to protect his men, even as he recalls an illicit affair from the past. A letter from home changes everything, and the story is brought up to the present day. Reviews from Australia and the UK have been, not surprisingly, ecstatic.'' --Library Journal

''The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a big, magnificent novel of passion and horror and tragic irony. Its scope, its themes, and its people all seem to grow richer and deeper in significance with the progress of the story, as it moves to its extraordinary resolution. It's by far the best new novel I've read in ages.'' --Patrick McGrath, author of Constance

''I loved this book. Not just a great novel but an important book in its ability to look at terrible things and create something beautiful. Everyone should read it.'' --Evie Wyld, author of All the Birds, Singing

''A masterpiece . . . A symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of a life . . . . An extraordinary piece of writing and a high point in an already distinguished career.'' --Guardian (UK)

''Nothing could have prepared us for this immense achievement . . . The Narrow Road to the Deep North is beyond comparison . . . Intensely moving.'' --Australian

''Possibly the year's most beautiful and moving novel.'' --Sunday Canberra Times

''Exhilarating . . . A huge novel, ambitious, driven, multistranded . . . [written] with mordant gusto, lyricism, and astonishing tenacity . . . With less rhetorical mannerism than Cormac McCarthy, but an equivalent ability to animate the specifics of place and time in an operatic sentence, Flanagan gives us a context, a demotic history for these men who went, hapless, to war . . . Life affirming.'' --Sydney Morning Herald

''In an already sparkling career, this might be his biggest, best, most moving work yet.'' --Sunday Age (Melbourne)

''Profound . . . It's not just the big characters but also the minor ones who strike their perfect notes.'' --Herald Sun (Melbourne)

''The luminous imagination of Richard Flanagan is among the most precious of Australian literary treasures.'' --Newcastle Herald

''Richard Flanagan is an extraordinary writer and this sixth novel is a masterpiece . . . A marvelous book.'' --Australian Women's Weekly

''Despite the novel's epic sprawl it retains the delicate vignettes that characterize Flanagan's work, those beautiful brush strokes of poignancy and veracity that remain in the reader's mind long afterwards.'' --West Australian News

''At its core it is simply about the human spirit - in all its guises. You emerge from reading Flanagan, walk out to the veranda into the sunlight, and stand there, changed.'' --Courier Mail (Brisbane)

''Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching in its treatment of death, this is a powerful novel.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Though much of this fine novel (whose title is taken from the Japanese poet Bash ) is extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, and sharply insightful (and even balanced - the Japanese captors are portrayed, not sympathetically, but with dimension), it is very strong and powerful medicine indeed.'' --Booklist

About the Author

Richard Flanagan is the author of the novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting. He lives in Tasmania.

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Product Details

  • MP3 CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio; Unabridged MP3CD edition (August 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1483021459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1483021454
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (978 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Beautifully written, and well honed characters.
Steephanie Gibbs
A mightily powerful story of war, love and human survival in every possible circumstance.
A book that kept me thinking way after I finished reading the last page.
Jane D

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

241 of 257 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The very best books don't just entertain, uplift or educate us. They enfold us in their world and make us step outside of ourselves and become transformed. And sometimes, if we're really lucky, they ennoble and affirm us.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is such a book. Once I got past the first 60 or 70 pages, there was no turning back. I turned the last page marveling at Mr. Flanagan's skill and agreeing with historian Barbara Tuchman that, "Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill."

The Narrow Road is based on an actual event: the building of the Thai-Burma death railway in 1943 by POWs commanded to the Japanese. The title comes from famed haiku poet Matsuo Basho's most famous work and sets up a truism of the human condition: even those who can admire the concise and exquisite portrayal of life can become the agents of death.

The key character, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans, a larger-than-life POW, is also a study in contradictions: as "Big Fella", he protects those under his command from starvation, heinous deceases and senseless dehumanizing while struggling with his own demons. The passages are haunting and heartbreaking: the skeletal bodies covered in their own excretement, the bulging ulcers, the breaking of mind and spirit.

Yet Mr. Flanagan does not depict these scenes to shock the reader. Rather, he reveals how all is ephemeral, mythologized, or forgotten: "Nothing endures. Don't you see? That's what Kipling meant. Not empires, not memories. We remember nothing. Maybe for a year or two. Maybe most of a life, if we live. Maybe. But then we will die, and who will ever understand any of this?
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120 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel shares its title with a poetic travelogue by the 17th century haiku poet Matsuo Basho which was published in 1694. In many respects, the journey undertaken by Matsuo Basho is very different from that undertaken by Dorrigo Evans in this novel. Matsuo Basho is largely focussed on the beauty of the world around him, whereas Dorrigo Evans’s odyssey is of evolving self, and place.

‘A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else.’

Dorrigo Evans is the central character in Richard Flanagan’s novel. His story moves in place and time, between different aspects of his lives in a way that made me think about the kind of man Dorrigo Evans was, and about how complex humans can be. The core of the story, and of Evans’s heroism, is about his experiences as a doctor in a prisoner of war camp on the infamous Thai-Burma railway during World War II. Evans loves literature, and especially Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ which he reads and rereads. Evans’s memories are triggered by writing a foreword for a collection of sketches done by one of the men (Guy ‘Rabbit’ Hendricks) who did not survive the camp. We read Dorrigo Evans’s memories of the camp together with his childhood in Tasmania, his life in Melbourne, and his posting to Adelaide where he has an affair with his Uncle Keith’s much younger wife, Amy. Although Evans becomes engaged to the conventional Ella before being posted overseas, it is his affair with Amy that sustains him through his camp experiences. We are not spared from graphic descriptions of the physical consequences of life in the camps: malnutrition, minimal hygiene and physical brutality are all covered. But in all the squalor and hardship, pain and suffering, there are men who try to support each other.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Goodness eludes the characters...

The protagonist, Dorrigo Evans, is a womanizer, an unloving husband, an unsatisfactory father, a somewhat reckless surgeon, and a war hero who considers himself a man without virtue.

The Japanese soldiers who tormented him and his men in a POW jungle camp in Siam consider themselves good men, heroically devoted to the Emperor and faithful to their idea of duty. Years later they actually do develop compassion (too late to benefit the POWs).

These shifting sands of morality are a recurrent theme in the book. It's clear that Dorrigo protected his men as best he could and saved many lives. His personal failings pale beside this. And the insane cruelty of the Japanese soldiers, although inexcusable, is clearly the result of their military training and indoctrination. So everyone can be seen as a victim of war and circumstances.

Dorrigo's experiences in the jungle camp are the most fascinating pages of the book. The vivid accounts of hunger, beatings, dysentery, lice – and surgery with improvised implements and homemade anesthetic are unforgettable. Compared to camp life, I found the account of Dorrigo's guilty love affair with his uncle's young wife to be a bit tedious. Perhaps I’m losing my romanticism.

There is a certain incoherence to the narrative; on the other hand there are some very moving scenes. So my enjoyment of this book was on and off. Certainly it’s a very ambitious novel, a valiant effort to decipher an indecipherable world.
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