‘THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH’ by Richard Flanagan

‘THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH’ by Richard Flanagan

 

The Man Booker Prize and Prime Minister’s Choice awards 2014, this moves between Pre-WWII and the horrors of the Thai-Burma Railway, and just when you think you have all that worked that out, it moves on into the future within an unchallenged wind of memories and sourest of impacts. To dust off the essence of mothballs-to catch hold of an era, a full day on the railway with its foul torments, this fragility in humanity with its boldest of endurances is something all Australians should witness. Perhaps not since ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ has such a vivid description of war’s senselessness, giving meaning to its brutality.

Here stands a hero-less, no bollocks account of humanity at its strug- gling Ying & Yang best. Through its intense depravity is the enormity of the human spirit, such an honest emotion- where through the suffering remains a desire to hold onto the Australian life that was theirs before the treachery of war. The journey through post-war Japan too is intriguing.

At one stage my head felt like it was going to explode, and not from rage, but from something that my background in biology could possibly explain-but is best left to that unsorted realm. On another page in another chapter, tears fell as I sat in a Japanese friend’s outdoor café, and not from sadness, but from the honour in forgiveness a Greek Australian gestured to his fellow Australians when returning from the malice of Thailand. He writes so very well this R. Flanagan. 

Ian Browne

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