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THE NARROW ROAD
TO THE DEEP NORTH

BY RICHARD FLANAGAN

448 pages

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is not for the faint hearted and the novel did engender uncomfortable reading for all of us in the Den. But we couldn’t deny it was a worthy prize-winning novel  (Man Booker Prize Winner 2014) and a wild card choice that appealed to some – but not all.

 

Based on the author’s own father’s war-time experiences in Asia on the Thai-Burma border, Flanagan looks back at the life of an Australian POW survivor who returns home but lives on as a flawed casualty  - battling with his own conscience and the demons of war. 

 

The Narrow Road to the Deep North takes the reader to a Japanese camp in the Burma Death Railways. It tells an empathetic story of surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, who works tirelessly to save the men under his command from starvation, diseases and brutal beatings. 

 

Romance is interwoven into the novel, providing some respite for the reader as we find Dorrigo haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s young wife. Love in war-time and forgiveness are explored, as well as reaching out to the human face behind the captives’ perpetrators – living on within their own hell. 

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