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The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 12, 2014
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“Some years, very good books win the Man Booker Prize, but this year a masterpiece has won it.” —A.C. Grayling, Chair of Judges, Man Booker Prize 2014
“Richard Flanagan has written a sort of Australian War and Peace.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR
“A symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of a life . . . A masterpiece.” —The Guardian
“I suspect that on rereading, this magnificent novel will seem even more intricate, more carefully and beautifully constructed.” —New York Times Book Review
“Captivating . . . This is a classic work of war fiction from a world-class writer . . . Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Elegantly wrought, measured, and without an ounce of melodrama, Flanagan’s novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.” —Financial Times
“A moving and necessary work of devastating humanity and lasting significance.” —Seattle Times
“A novel of extraordinary power, deftly told and hugely affecting. A classic in the making.” —The Observer
“Nothing could have prepared us for this immense achievement . . . The Narrow Road to the Deep North is beyond comparison.” —The Australian
“A devastatingly beautiful novel.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“The book Richard Flanagan was born to write.” —The Economist
“It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many POWs in the Asian jungle, that is the beating heart of this book: an excruciating, terrifying, life-altering story that is an indelible fictional testament to the prisoners there.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Exhilarating . . . Life affirming.” —Sydney Morning Herald
“A supple meditation on memory, trauma, and empathy that is also a sublime war novel . . . Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching.” —Publishers Weekly
“Homeric . . . Flanagan’s feel for language, history’s persistent undercurrent, and subtle detail sets his fiction apart. There isn’t a false note in this book.” —Irish Times
“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
“The luminous imagination of Richard Flanagan is among the most precious of Australian literary treasures.” —Newcastle Herald
“In an already sparkling career, this might be his biggest, best, most moving work yet.” —Sunday Age (Melbourne)
“An unforgettable story of men at war . . . Flanagan’s prose is richly innovative and captures perfectly the Australian demotic of tough blokes, with their love of nicknames and excellent swearing. He evokes Evans’s affair with Amy, and his subsequent soulless wanderings, with an intensity and beauty that is as poetic as the classical Japanese literature that peppers this novel.” —The Times (London)
“Extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, and sharply insightful . . . Flanagan handles the horrifyingly grim details of the wartime conditions with lapidary precision and is equally good on the romance of the youthful indiscretion that haunts Evans.” —Booklist
“Virtuosic . . . Flanagan’s book is as harrowing and brutal as it is beautiful and moving . . . This deeply affecting, elegiac novel will stay with readers long after it’s over.” —Shelf Awareness
“Devastating . . . Flanagan’s father died the day this book was finished. But he would, no doubt, have been as proud of it as his son was of him.” —The Independent (UK)
“Despite the novel’s epic sprawl it retains the delicate vignettes that characterise Flanagan’s work, those beautiful brush strokes of poignancy and veracity that remain in the reader’s mind long afterwards.” —West Australian News
“Mesmerising . . . A profound meditation on life and time, memory and forgetting . . . A magnificent achievement, truly the crown on an already illustrious career.” —Adelaide Advertiser
About the Author
Richard Flanagan's five previous 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 honors and are published in forty-two countries. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. He lives in Tasmania.
Top customer reviews
However, I did find its relentless bleakness really hard going at times, as well as his tendency to over-analyse everything at the risk of exhausting his reader. The description of the leg amputation in the camp made me feel physically ill and I had to read it in two shifts. i also found the author's sentence structure sometimes so convoluted it was hard to get his meaning, necessitating lots of backing up to re-read.
It's not an easy novel. By the time I finished it I felt battered and raw. However, I'd thoroughly recommend it on the grounds that it's an exceptional piece of writing, a tour de force that knocks you out of your comfort zone, but does nothing to uplift the human spirit.
Better than any other book I have read, this one pulls these separate elements together. The Narrow Road to the North is both the famous diary and the absurdity of the Burmese railway, wrested from the jungle by dying POWs. The Australians, the Japanese, the Koreans, Dorrigo Evans, the mysterious protagonist who leads the prisoners and experiences one summer of delirious love, all have become by the end of the book just people like the rest of us, trying to do their best in life.
An extraordinary work, a masterpiece. Read it.
I went deep with the Flanagan. I mean biblical deep. Another reviewer wrote that they found no hope in this book. To me that was the point - the dilemma.
We have been taught to pursuit the divine, and anything other than that, the chaos that enters our lives, is the Devil's work. Seems pretty simple until you are thrust into a realisation that chaos seems to be the healthier sibling in all of this....
There is little poetry in straight line thinking, without the chaos it creates.
I am a writer living in the city of Hobart. Oh how I long to have a pint of ale with Flanagan at the Hope and Anchor, smoke a Pall Mall or two, and then wander up Elizabeth street in search of Nikitaris, where we will discuss chaos, and drink locally made wine until our heads hurt.
We know that Nazi atrocities cannot be excused on the grounds that they were "following orders." This book is a poignant reminder that the Nazis were not alone in their willingness to do murder upon murder based on the same type of claim- it was the Emperor's wish. The Japanese inflicted unspeakable barbarisms upon hundreds of thousands.
The book's story of the brotherhood of suffering among the Aussie POWs is gripping and powerful. The story of the protagonist"s amoral, conflicted, heroic and ultimately redeemed life is moving from beginning to end.
The story of the post war lives of the Japanese soldiers who committed serial cruelty in the name of the Emperor is by far the author's most ambitious undertaking. Many of the questions posed by the struggles of these men are answered only in personal delusion or private confessions between accomplices to war crimes. There is little sense of national guilt or shame. Perhaps the author believes that such feelings are beyond the ability of Japanese society to mobilize.