The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage International)
“Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” —The Washington Post
In The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan displays the gifts that have made him one of the most acclaimed writers of contemporary fiction. Moving deftly from a Japanese POW camp to present-day Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo Evans and his fellow prisoners to that of the Japanese guards, this savagely beautiful novel tells a story of 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.
Praise For The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage International)…
“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
Vintage, 9780804171472, 416pp.
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
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.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
What is the significance of the name of the novel, The
Narrow Road to the Deep North? Why might Flanagan
have chosen to name his book after Basho’s well-known
travelogue by the same name?
How does the author’s “visual” portrait of the characters
and the places they inhabit inform us about the state of the characters
and shape our reaction to their story? Evaluate Flanagan’s choice of
imagery and language. What type of imagery and language is most
prevalent in the book? Does Flanagan employ much symbolism?
How does this ultimately shape our experience of the book and our
understanding of the major themes addressed therein?
The POWs are put to work—often to their deaths—as slaves building
a railway for the Japanese emperor. What does this railway represent
to the Japanese people and their leader? Why are they so devoted to
its construction that they can be driven to violence and murder to
ensure its completion? Nakamura says that the English also utilized
“non-freedom” in order to ensure progress in their own country. What
does this seem to indicate about the nature of progress and how do his
comments change our perception of both the European and the Asian
characters and what is happening on the Line?
Evaluate Flanagan’s depiction of the dual nature of man. Consider
representations of good and evil, of man as philosopher-poet and man
as animal, of the public and private self. Does it seem to be possible for
man to resist this dual nature? Does the novel indicate whether man
can choose which side of his dual nature prevails over the other or is
this beyond man’s control?
Are there any representations of faith in the novel? If so, to what are
the characters faithful? There are also many examples of faithlessness
and unfaithfulness to be found in the book. What causes the characters
to lose their faith or to be unfaithful?
At the conclusion of the story, Flanagan presents us with the image of
Dorrigo opening a book only to find out that the final pages have been
torn out. Why do you think that the author chooses to employ this
image at the story’s end?