The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan

Not for a while have I had the privilege to read a book that so eloquently depicts what it means to be human both in the face of extreme suffering and in life in general. Dorrigo Evans is a young surgeon enlisted in the Australian Army who finds himself a prisoner of war in one of the camps working on the Thai-Burma Railway or as it was more commonly called ‘The Death Railway’. He and his Australian and New Zealand comrades live in appalling conditions under the command of the Japanese and Korean Imperial Army and are forced to keep working on the railway despite severe malnourishment and disease. Dorrigo has the unenviable task of choosing the men fit enough to work each day despite the fact that not one is up to it, as well as treating those who lie dying from injury or infection.  It’s not easy to read some of the passages set in the camp but the narrative is not set entirely during the war but moves back and forward in time and takes in Dorrigo’s life on the home front, his girlfriend and in particular an affair he had with his uncle’s wife which remains significant many years later. Some novels manage to get so much of the human experience into them, and this is one of them. Through love, loss, suffering, death, regret and forgiveness Flanagan has crafted a novel that speaks to us all and despite the emotional roller-coaster that it is I can’t recommend this book enough.  

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I couldn't agree more. This is a must read.



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