The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is book 3 of my Man Booker shortlist readalong. Its much heavier going than the first two, although arguably still a coming of age novel, and feels like serious literature in a way the last two didn’t.

The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthThis is a war book, about how men survived, or didn’t, in the Japanese POW camps, which we experience through various narrators, following the memories of the key one.

It is an enlightening look at how low humanity is capable of getting, on all sides, and the impact this has as it echoes through lives. We see heartbreak, love, lust and humanity in the face of overwhelming odds, along with the loss of humanity as it falls into a belief system that doesn’t benefit from its existence.

I’m glad this book was in the mix of the shortlist.

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3 thoughts on “The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

  1. I struggle with this to be honest and actually put it aside after reading 50% and picked up Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth instead, I needed a bit of a woman’s perspective on war and to hear from one who was not only directly involved but who lost her fiance, her brother and her closest friends and survived herself and went on to do something constructive.

    I’m not sure whether to persevere or follow my instinct which suggests there isn’t much learning in this book for me, or if there is, it is necessary to witness far too much horror to get to it.

    1. It does get quite brutal in places, and if you want a woman’s perspective this definitely isn’t the book (the only women are seen wholly as the sexual partners of male characters). I was willing to give it a bit of a pass on that though as much of the book has a setting that genuinely excludes women.

      Its an important part of the variety I was hoping to get from the list, but its not a book I would say needs to be read.

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