HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013)

by Richard Flanagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,3201224,509 (4.05)2 / 342
"A novel of love and war that traces the life of one man--an Australian surgeon--from a prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway during World War II, up to the present"--
  1. 00
    Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke (AmourFou)
  2. 00
    Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne (Philosofiction)
  3. 00
    The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle (Cecrow)
  4. 01
    Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (Kristelh)
  5. 01
    Man on the Move by Otto De Kat (gust)
    gust: In beide boeken speelt de dramatisch verlopen aanleg van een spoorweg tussen Thaïland en Birma door krijgsgevangenen van de Japanners tijdens de tweede wereldoorlog een belangrijke rol.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (121)  Dutch (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)


I know what I'll do,
Just once, this whole book review
Will spring from haiku.

    –Lee
Yeeeah… no. I like a good haiku as much as the next person who quite likes a good haiku. But reviewing a 450 page novel in seventeen syllables would stretch my not-considerable haiku powers past breaking point. Or, as one 11th century poet wrote of his student:
Said a young scholar:
“My haiku just don't follow.
The first two lines go just fine, but then I mess up
   by having more than five syllables in the third line. And
   I forget to mention a season so have to cram in an
   incongruous reference to one. Oh crap. Uh. Winter.”

    – レエ
Sorry, I lied. That was me again. Richard Flanagan's novel – the one I'm ostensibly reviewing – may be named after a piece of Japanese prose poetry and have a bit of an obsession with haiku, but unlike haiku the story comes in five parts. Hmm, five parts. Perhaps I should utilise a different form of high poetry that splits naturally into five:
I read once a year ere it's swarth,
A Booker book, this year's my fourth,
It's moving yet slick,
Like a fine limerick,
It's The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
I admit that's not the best limerick ever. I mean for one thing it doesn't feature a man from Nantucket, who's standing behind a horse on a bucket, and whose wife asks him what he's trying to do, and who responds “What's it look like to you?” etc. So like I said, not the best limerick ever. Top three maybe.

I feel like you've digressed. We should be reviewing Richard Flanagan's 2014 Booker Prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, not my (admittedly marvellous) poetry. Fortunately “top three” sums up his novel as well as my artwork. By which I mean that of the three Booker-prize-winning novels I've read, this one just sneaks into the top three. Low praise, I know, so let me explain.

The first third of the novel is about Dorrigo Evans, an old Australian surgeon who's cheating on his wife and reminiscing about being a young Australian surgeon who was cheating on his fiancée. Having established over the course of a hundred and fifty pages that this is a story about Dorrigo Evans, about love and infidelity, about an unlikeable protagonist sticking his donger in anything with a pulse, having done all that, the author then says “Ah knackers to it, I'd rather write a story about how much war sucks for everyone involved, about the people who go to war and die there because that's what war does, and about the people who come back from war and die still, because that's what people do.” Having made this decision a question rears its head: what to do with that suddenly out-of-place opening? Again, the author's thinking seems to be “Ah knackers to that too, I'll keep it. It's got some nice similes in it. Sheilas love similes.”

The result of these mid-story volte-faces is a mess. Not a glorious mess like that time I was cooking while a bit drunk and decided that peanut butter and bananas would make the chorizo and cous cous dish I was making taste amazing (spoiler: they did). No, just a messy mess. Bits are good. Bits are bad. (I'm looking at you, chapter from a Roland Emmerich film near the end.) And the good and the bad bits mesh together so poorly that it feels like reading two different stories. One of them I would heartily recommend. The other I heartily would not. ( )
1 vote imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |


I know what I'll do,
Just once, this whole book review
Will spring from haiku.

    –Lee
Yeeeah… no. I like a good haiku as much as the next person who quite likes a good haiku. But reviewing a 450 page novel in seventeen syllables would stretch my not-considerable haiku powers past breaking point. Or, as one 11th century poet wrote of his student:
Said a young scholar:
“My haiku just don't follow.
The first two lines go just fine, but then I mess up
   by having more than five syllables in the third line. And
   I forget to mention a season so have to cram in an
   incongruous reference to one. Oh crap. Uh. Winter.”

    – レエ
Sorry, I lied. That was me again. Richard Flanagan's novel – the one I'm ostensibly reviewing – may be named after a piece of Japanese prose poetry and have a bit of an obsession with haiku, but unlike haiku the story comes in five parts. Hmm, five parts. Perhaps I should utilise a different form of high poetry that splits naturally into five:
I read once a year ere it's swarth,
A Booker book, this year's my fourth,
It's moving yet slick,
Like a fine limerick,
It's The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
I admit that's not the best limerick ever. I mean for one thing it doesn't feature a man from Nantucket, who's standing behind a horse on a bucket, and whose wife asks him what he's trying to do, and who responds “What's it look like to you?” etc. So like I said, not the best limerick ever. Top three maybe.

I feel like you've digressed. We should be reviewing Richard Flanagan's 2014 Booker Prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, not my (admittedly marvellous) poetry. Fortunately “top three” sums up his novel as well as my artwork. By which I mean that of the three Booker-prize-winning novels I've read, this one just sneaks into the top three. Low praise, I know, so let me explain.

The first third of the novel is about Dorrigo Evans, an old Australian surgeon who's cheating on his wife and reminiscing about being a young Australian surgeon who was cheating on his fiancée. Having established over the course of a hundred and fifty pages that this is a story about Dorrigo Evans, about love and infidelity, about an unlikeable protagonist sticking his donger in anything with a pulse, having done all that, the author then says “Ah knackers to it, I'd rather write a story about how much war sucks for everyone involved, about the people who go to war and die there because that's what war does, and about the people who come back from war and die still, because that's what people do.” Having made this decision a question rears its head: what to do with that suddenly out-of-place opening? Again, the author's thinking seems to be “Ah knackers to that too, I'll keep it. It's got some nice similes in it. Sheilas love similes.”

The result of these mid-story volte-faces is a mess. Not a glorious mess like that time I was cooking while a bit drunk and decided that peanut butter and bananas would make the chorizo and cous cous dish I was making taste amazing (spoiler: they did). No, just a messy mess. Bits are good. Bits are bad. (I'm looking at you, chapter from a Roland Emmerich film near the end.) And the good and the bad bits mesh together so poorly that it feels like reading two different stories. One of them I would heartily recommend. The other I heartily would not. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
*** Good read. Enjoyable book, do read it if it sounds interesting to you.

It came off strong, picking up the pace around halfway through. The beginning was a bit less of my taste, the style of writing and way of storybuilding didn't suit me. But it all came together further in the book and I had trouble putting it down before I turned the last page.

Around the time Darky Gardiner got his head smashed in for the first time, which is about halfway through the book, Flanagans style finally connected to the story. He was, from then on, able to deliver the tales of horror, but also of basic humanity and connection. This seems to be his strong suit. However, the strong group feelings of comradery and dedication as he told them didn't stick with me. ( )
  friso | Jun 1, 2020 |
There are three parts to this book, all concerning Dorrigo Evans.

The first is a story of him having an affair with his uncle’s young wife before World War II. It is a brief and passionate fling, and whilst they think that they are getting away with it, it seems that others are aware.

Come the start of the second world war, Evans is one of those caught by the Japanese. He is put in charge of J force, a band of 1000 or Australian and Tasmanian soldiers who have been interred as PoWs by the Japanese army. They are a rough and ready bunch, full of characters and have a strong common bond against their captors. The Japanese have set them to build a railway all the way through Burma. This infamous line, said to be impossible to construct, was thought by the Japanese to be something that they deserved by divine right as the Emperor has demanded it.

The final part is about Evans and others that survived the slavery and war, and seeing how they coped. There are men who never breathed a word of their treatment, other who fell apart. There is a couple of threads of his captors too, those that were punished, and those who escaped.

Written as a tribute to his father, prisoner 335, who was one of those that suffered building this utterly pointless railway. The first part of the book is a little bit clunky, but then as it moves onto the prison camp the story becomes more fluent and eloquent. It does make for graphic and grim reading, really grim reading. Flanagan brings home just how bad it was for the men held by the Japanese. The conditions that they were held in were inhuman and appalling, and the treatment of the PoWs was harrowing, cruel, brutal and violent.

All to build a railway, because the Emperor demanded it.

The characters in the books are strong and even in the most graphic parts of the book, there is camaraderie, compassion and even a touch of humour amongst the men. In parts the book is beautifully written, there are Japanese death poems and Tennyson's 'Ulysses' woven through the text, but the first part feels like it was added after to add context to Evans fate.

All that said, this is one part of the war that has not had much fiction written about it, and this novel by Flanagan shines light on an unknown and shameful part of human history. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
This novel would have been far more powerful and coherent if Amy were excised from the story. It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many P.O.W.’s 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. Taken by themselves, these chapters create a slim, compelling story: Odysseus’s perseverance through a bloody war and his return home at last to Penelope (in this case, Ella) and his efforts, like his fellow soldiers’, to see if he can put the horrors and suffering of war in the rearview mirror, and somehow construct a fulfilling Act II to a broken life.
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Flanaganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blommesteijn, AnkieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Mother, they write poems.

    Paul Celan
A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

Basho
Dedication
For prisoner san byaku ju go (335)
First words
Why at the beginning of things is there always light?
Quotations
But sometimes things are said and they're not just words. They are everything that one person thinks of another in a sentence. Just one sentence. . . . . .There are words and words and none mean anything. And then one sentence means everything.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
AUGUST, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW cam 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.,
Haiku summary
Horror in the jungle;
Love kept him strong -
An illusion.
(Bebedee)

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.05)
0.5 2
1 5
1.5 2
2 24
2.5 11
3 71
3.5 55
4 182
4.5 75
5 184

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 147,862,147 books! | Top bar: Always visible