Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Paperback: 448 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Literary Fiction, War
Publisher: Vintage 2015
Source: Tywyn Bookclub Choice
First Sentence: Why at the beginning of things is there always light?
Favourite Quote: “In trying to escape the fatality of memory, he discovered with an immense sadness that pursuing the past inevitably only leads to greater loss.”
Review Quote: "Flanagan can stop a reader's breath." (Los Angeles Times)
Setting:Tasmania, Burma, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Changi (Singapore), Sydney (Australia)
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (2014)The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2014)Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Fiction (2014)Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Book of the Year (2014) etc.
My Opinion: This is not a choice I would have made myself as the story is so deeply entrenched in the horrors of war, not a genre that appeals to me. However I soon discovered that there is so much more to this well deserved winner of the Man Booker Prize, which the author wrote in tribute to his father, who actually survived the horrors of working on the Thailand to Burma Railway. Richard Flanagan is quoted as saying 'that more people died building this railway than words in my novel'
At the centre of the novel is the intense and horrific story of the time the protagonist Dorrigo Evans spent in the Japanese POW camp working on the so called Death Railway. To be honest I found parts of the novel very difficult reading as it was very descriptive and the brutality was very disturbing. It took perseverance but as the intertwined love story, that motivated Dorrigo to survive balances the novel I kept going. The narrative is not presented chronologically which helped because just as I was wondering how much more I could take of the sickening descriptions, the story would move to another time and place, a much needed break. In conclusion well worth reading if you can cope with the disturbing aspects, will I think appeal to fans of Sebastian Faulks.  

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

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

What would you do if you saw the love of your life, whom you thought dead for the last quarter of a century, walking towards you?

Richard Flanagan's story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds..

Video Trailer for 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' Courtesy of YouTube

Courtesy of BBC Newsnight.

Published on 14 Oct 2014
Live after the Man Booker 2014 awards ceremony Kirsty Wark talks to the winner, Australian Richard Flanagan who has scooped the £50,000 prize for his wartime novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Author Profile

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on January 1st 1961.
His novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting and The Narrow Road to the Deep North have received numerous honours and are published in 42 countries. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North in 2014.
Two of his novels are set  where he lived in the township of Rosebery as a child. Death of a River Guide relates to the Franklin River, Gould's Book of Fish to the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, and The Sound of One Hand Clapping to the Hydro settlements in the Central Highlands of Tasmania.
An author, historian and film director, he has also been  president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). His earlier, non-fiction titles include books about the Gordon River, student issues, and the story of conman John Friedrich.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page   YouTube Video   Goodreads Author Profile   Wikipedia - Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan - Author Official Website

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