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The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard…

The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2014)

by Richard Flanagan

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Dorrigo Evans came from a life of poverty in Tasmania to become one of the establishment, a well-respected Doctor. His life was shaped by events both before and during the Second World War. Firstly he found and lost love. Secondly he was captured and became a medical officer in a work-camp charged with the building of a section of the Burma railway - The Line. The horrors of this time and its aftermath are described from the perspective of both the prisoners of war and their captors.

This is a stunning book. The language used and the metaphors throughout are poetic. The descriptions of life on The Line are horrific and yet, as we know from a multitude of other sources, not underplayed. What grounds this book is the descriptions of life before and after the war. Dorrigo is never fully satisfied with his life, he finds it hard to love, but when his family is in danger his protective instinct comes out. The difficulty of readjustment for both the prisoners and their capturers is beautifully imagined. In fact both sides are trapped by society, the Japanese with their discipline and structure, the Koreans with their poverty and servitude, and the Australians with their class distinctions and camarardery.

Often prize winning books are too complex or intellectual, often a hard read. This is a deserved winner of the Booker Prize. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
middle aged man writrs clliched naff romantic utterances which overshadows potential war story of note. abanonded due to cringe attacks. ( )
  SepulchreBrit | May 8, 2017 |
You need to be patient with parts of this book (I admit I wasn't always). It can seem tedious in its long passaged descriptions of a potentially fleeting romance and then the long slogs through prisoner of war slave labor camps (think of a beyond gritty and horrendous version of Bridge Over The River Kwai), but it provides the groundwork for the final pages that are so powerful (I admit I was in tears). (Brian) ( )
  ShawIslandLibrary | Apr 3, 2017 |
(Fiction, WWII Pacific front)

This 2014 winner of the Man Booker Prize is a look into the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway (“The Death Railway”) during World War II by Australians in Japanese POW camps. They worked in horrendous conditions in the Burmese jungle.

The modern-day part of this novel was annoying and superfluous but the WWII events will stay with you. Harrowing and powerful.

4½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Mar 6, 2017 |
Less is more. Where have we heard that before? Well, it was certainly said a few times this month concerning Richard Flanagan’s epic tome, The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Even the title is too long, was Anne’s comment!
At close to 500 pages, this combined story of enduring love and futility of war was felt to be well written but, alas, too wordy.
This can be an often occurring theme in our discussions … when does a book lose its impact under the weight of too many words? That is of course within each and every reader’s discretion. In truth, the trick of engaging the reader with just the right amount of information and dialogue is a craft perfected by only a handful of talented writers, so where does this leave Flanagan and his latest offering?
Well, the majority of us did get through this novel and although not enamored by the main character, Dorrigo Evens or by the attempt at romance, there was an overwhelming respect for Flanagan’s personal quest at telling this story. Those of us who heard the author interviewed found it much easier to plough through the pages. His impeccable research and personal motivation added emotional depth that may have been lost to anyone not privy to the conversation.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North (being the Burma Railway) gave a poignant and emotive picture of POWs and their plight, and although many of us have heard and read of this sad history, Flanagan was still able to cleverly, and some agree, perfectly, engross the reader. We also felt including the Japanese perspective may have helped in securing the quality of the read.
Our conversation covered many of the topics any novel of war tends to inspire, but we did find ourselves pondering specifically the philosophy of training killers, Korean and Japanese relations, returning POWs (their strengths and their flaws) and whether Dorrigo was in fact Weary Dunlop! The individual stories wound into prison life gave us all gratification in a place and time where little of such could be found, adding yet another dimension to this story ... a human touch that could only be bound in truth, not in imagination.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is listed for this year’s Miles Franklin Award.
  jody12 | Jan 29, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (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.
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Mother, they write poems.

    Paul Celan
A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

For prisoner san byaku ju go (335)
First words
Why at the beginning of things is there always light?
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

What would you do if you saw the love of your life, whom you thought dead for a 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.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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