The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan
Author: Richard Flanagan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Description: 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. (via Goodreads).
Thoughts: I will admit that the only reason that I read this book was because it won the 2014 Man Booker Prize, making it the fourth Booker award winner that I have read, that I am aware of (The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Illuminaries by Eleanor Catton and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel being the other three).
What I liked about the book was that while the book has beautiful imagery, it is also heartbreaking at the same time and renders the reader speechless. It is a book of contrasts in that while your heart is breaking, yet at the same time you are hoping that characters in the book survive.
You also get a feel for what the POW camps that were building the railways through Thailand and Burma during the Second World War (the movie The Railway Man takes place during the same era). I definitely got the sense of atmosphere and quickly got wrapped up in Evans' world before, during and after the war (I felt that the scenes that took place after the war were almost dream-like; almost as if Dorrigo was imaging what could happen, if he survived the labour camp).
I really liked the dream-like quality that Flanagan brought to the book, especially the parts that take place after the war. It was almost like one was driven into a dream-like trance as a result.
Bottom line: A very well written book and certainly worthy of the Man Booker Prize that it received. Probably would recommend the book to those that enjoy reading literary pieces of fiction. Highly Recommended.