I’m getting a late start tonight, so I’m going to keep this short. Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize in 2014 for this novel, and I hadn’t heard of it till the Longlist came out. 2014 was the first year American novels could be nominated for the prize, and I was disappointed, though not especially surprised, that an American didn’t win. The Narrow Road to the Deep North bounces back and forth in time, but focuses primarily on a group of Australians in a Japanese POW camp towards the end of the World War II. They have been tasked with building a railroad from Thailand to Burma. I knew absolutely nothing about what is known as the Thailand-Burma Death Railway prior to starting this book, but it’s very possible that I now know too much. Flanagan, himself an Aussie, describes the deplorable conditions of the POWs in so much excruciating detail that it is getting to be difficult to read. And I’m not a squeamish soul. I will spare you guys an excerpt at this point, but be forewarned it’s some beautiful/terrible language. The main character is Dorrigo Evans, who is an Army physician who before shipping out for the war accidentally falls in love with his uncle’s wife Amy. Their love is either deep and beautiful, or completely deranged. I’m not sure yet which it is, probably because I don’t yet know how their story ends.
I’m about halfway through right now, and really do have more to say, but I’m going to save it for another night when I’m less distracted. And I promise to post some Yosemite pictures soon too.
We’re both reading war books – I started John Renehan’s The Valley this morning, and it’s really good.