Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014. A novel of the cruelty of war, 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.
'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
'Magnificent.' -- Michael Gorra, The New York Times
'Beyond comparison . . . an immense achievement . . . Wilfred Owen wrote of his Great War verse: "My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity." Flanagan's triumph is to find poetry without any pity at all.' - Geordie Williamson, The Australian
‘A story of war and star-crossed lovers, the novel is also a profound meditation on life and time, memory and forgetting . . . a magnificent achievement.’ - Katharine England, Adelaide Advertiser
'A masterpiece . . . The Narrow Road is an extraordinary piece of writing and a high point in an already distinguished career.' - Michael Williams, The Guardian
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Australian author Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his sixth novel—which takes its name from a landmark book by a 17th-century Japanese poet. The Narrow Road to the Deep North follows Dorrigo Evans, an Australian medical officer forced to help build the so-called “Death Railway”—several hundred miles of track carved through the Thai and Burmese jungles. With luminous prose, harrowing detail and telling flashbacks, the celebrated Tasmanian author captures the emotional and physical stakes of daily life in a Japanese POW camp. The result is a powerful story of love, death and survival.
From bestselling Australian writer Flanagan (Gould's Book of Fish) comes a supple meditation on memory, trauma, and empathy that is also a sublime war novel. Initially, it is related through the reminiscences of Dorrigo Evans, a 77-year-old surgeon raised in Tasmania whose life has been filtered through two catastrophic events: the illicit love affair he embarked on with Amy Mulvaney, his uncle's wife, as a young recruit in the Australian corps and his WWII capture by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. Most of the novel recounts Dorrigo's experience as a POW in the Burmese jungle on the "speedo," horrific work sessions on the "Death Railway" that leave most of his friends dead from dysentery, starvation, or violence. While Amy, with the rest of the world, believes him dead, Dorrigo's only respite comes from the friends he tries to keep healthy and sane, fellow sufferers such as Darky Gardiner, Lizard Brancussi, and Rooster MacNiece. Yet it is Dorrigo's Japanese adversary, Major Nakamura, Flanagan's most conflicted and fully realized character, whose view of the war and struggles with the Emperor's will and his own postwar fate comes to overshadow Dorrigo's story, especially in the novel's bracing second half. Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching in its treatment of death, this is a powerful novel. 50,000-copy first printing.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
I've just finished "The Narrow Road..." and I have to record my reactions. It's a beautifully written, deeply moving, gut-wrenching, often visceral experience. I read part of it in New York on a daily commute from Harlem to my stop Downtown and found myself on two occasions embarrassingly having to wipe away an involuntary tear. I felt the wartime narrative hugely compelling and profoundly moving. I found the Australian based narrative oddly less convincing and perhaps a bit contrived. Nevertheless, on balance a great book and an important story well told.
One of the most important novels written by an Australian. It is remarkable on many different levels. A true classic.
The Narrow Road to Deep North
Excels on every level, brilliant writing that strikes chords over and over again. Plots are cleverly balanced to make a great read as well as educate on a subject which might otherwise be one of unremitting horror. Loved it!