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The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2014)

Tekijä: Richard Flanagan

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
3,0081444,367 (4.01)2 / 370
"A novel of love and war that traces the life of one man--an Australian surgeon--from a prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway during World War II, up to the present"--
Viimeisimmät tallentajatyksityinen kirjasto, Bennebo, jellis17, HarleyLane, AlexanderJames, prtmoura, koalakt, GuildfordInstitute, PoojaDharan, diflyhi
  1. 00
    Kwai-joen silta (tekijä: Pierre Boulle) (Cecrow)
  2. 00
    Sydney Bridge Upside Down (tekijä: David Ballantyne) (Philosofiction)
  3. 00
    Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II (tekijä: Vicki Croke) (AmourFou)
  4. 00
    The Sound of One Hand Clapping (tekijä: Richard Flanagan) (kjuliff)
  5. 01
    Man on the Move (tekijä: Otto de Kat) (gust)
    gust: In beide boeken speelt de dramatisch verlopen aanleg van een spoorweg tussen Thaïland en Birma door krijgsgevangenen van de Japanners tijdens de tweede wereldoorlog een belangrijke rol.
  6. 01
    Matterhorn (tekijä: Karl Marlantes) (Kristelh)

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» Katso myös 370 mainintaa

englanti (141)  saksa (1)  ranska (1)  hollanti (1)  Kaikki kielet (144)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 144) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
A very fine and structurally elaborate story built, to some degree, on the structure and meaning of Basho's great 17th century Haibun (a combination of prose and Haiku) of the same name. The novel has five parts, each introduced by an Haiku - the first by Basho and the others by Issa. Haikus also figure in the central part of the story which is based on the experiences of Australian prisoners of war building the Burma Railway for their Japanese captors in 1943. We see at least some portions of the Australian protagonist's whole life, before, during and after his war experience, but there is some jumping in time, and, with considerable imagery of hell, there is a sense that his life is defined by and revolves around a horrific day in Burma. All of the other characters are also limited by and trapped in this day.
Basho's Haibun is a description of his dangerous 1500 mile journey through Edo Japan in which he says that everyday is a journey, and the journey itself home. Noboyuki Yuasa wrote that "Basho had been casting away his earthly attachments...prior to his journey, and now he had nothing else to cast away but his own self...." (see Wikipedia entry on Oku no Hosomichi.)
There are other parallels - the sense of sabi (aloneness) in both books, the structure of Haiku itself with images on either side of a kirji, or cutting word, the change in Basho's poetry that occurred after his trip, etc.
Noboyuki Yuasa wrote that Basho's Narrow road to the Deep North was "a study in eternity and a monument set up against the flow of time". I defer to you whether Flanagan's book is this also. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
As I read this book the word I felt was "masterly." Flanagan seemed in complete control of his story and presentation.

Spoilers Abound.
But, after all, there are perhaps problems. I guess the fact that he couldn't say Hello when he saw her is the most clear evidence of the destruction his life wrought on him. I didn't find the set pieces convincing -- the one where he goes into the fire to save his family, the one where we find out that Darky was his nephew.
I'm surprised I let myself read it. Some of it will stay with me for a long time. (I watch baseball and I see Shohei's sweet face in the New Balance ad several times a day, but the logic of the book doesn't allow for much humanity.)
The characters are unknowable, that's part of the point I think.
  franoscar | Apr 27, 2023 |
Whoa. I found this novel to be both deeply flawed and incredibly compelling and powerful. The compelling and powerful part was enough to give it five stars in spite of the issues I had with it.
The story is about an Australian doctor, Dorrigo Evans, who ends up in a Japanese run POW camp. This particular group of POWs is responsible for building the Burma Railway (also known as the Death Railway). The task was seen as impossible, but the Japanese were basically determined to build it no matter what the cost. The book centers on life in the POW camp and then the aftermath of the war from both Evans' and the Japanese guards perspectives. In addition, before the war, Evans has an affair with his uncle's wife, and there is a subplot that focuses on Evans' affair and the impacts on his family life.

Let's talk about what makes this book so outstanding. First, Flanagan really wrote about war in such a way that it was totally brought to life for me. The scenes are very graphic, but I literally felt like I was there in the jungle with these prisoners. It was completely vivid in my mind. Second, Flanagan slowly reveals a very fascinating theme (or fascinating to me) about the true nature of man and whether good and bad can reside in one man at the same time and how that can happen. He investigates the issues of conscious and character on a deep level. I loved the way he explored these themes, and as soon as I finished the last page, I wanted to open the book back up and start it over again.

Unfortunately, there are some negatives that I feel I must mention because I don't think this book is going to be for everyone.

The initial 70 pages just aren't good reading. If I was the type of person who can put a book aside readily without finishing, it probably would have been put aside. It helped that it was recommended by someone who has never steered me wrong on a recommendation. Then, suddenly, it was as though the book takes off like a rocket. And at the end, I wanted to re-read the first 70 pages because things at the end tie back to the beginning. Honestly, I kinda really want to re-read the whole book now.
Also, the book jumps around in time without quite enough clues for my taste as to where you are in the timeline. That can be slightly frustrating.

Finally, Flanagan doesn't write about love and sex in nearly the same fashion as he writes about war. I felt like he truly understood war deep in his core. That he was somehow "writing what he knew". Love. Not so much. The love story never really came alive for me, and there's so many more moving love stories that if you were to read this book for that, you'd be wasting your time.

And yet, even with all these pretty substantial issues, I totally see why this book won the Booker. It will stay with me for a long time. I may actually re-read it. Something I rarely, rarely do. Honestly, in some way, it was different from any other book I can recall reading. I highlighted a lot of passages. Way more than usual. When it related to the war, I felt like the prose was outstanding. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Powerful historical fiction about timeless themes: the horrors of war, the nature of heroism, moral dualism, the meaning of life. The protagonist, Dorrigo Evans, is a doctor leading a group of Australian POWs captured by the Japanese in WWII and forced to build the Thai–Burma Death Railway. He rises to the challenge during crises, but his personal life is in disarray. The writing is eloquent, the storyline is riveting and the characters, particularly the men, are deeply drawn. It is thought-provoking and insightful. It helps explain, but does not excuse, the atrocities committed during the war by getting into the minds of those in charge of the prison camp. It also provides insight into the various coping mechanisms of the prisoners, both during and after the war. Flanagan’s vivid descriptions gave me a mind’s eye view into the horrific conditions of the prisoners in the jungle. The author employed a couple of recurring motifs that appealed to me, such as the interplay between light and shadow and the plentiful literary references. My issues with it were minor: female characters not at the same depth as the men, a bit choppy in the beginning, and lack of quotation marks, requiring a bit of re-reading.

This book contains graphic descriptions of violence, such as beheadings, operations without anesthesia, and brutal beatings. Also contains triggers for starvation, disease, infidelity, and PTSD. I felt physically ill reading some of these descriptions, so be forewarned.

Favorite quote:
"A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else."
( )
  Castlelass | Nov 4, 2022 |
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a story of the forced labor construction of the Burmese Railway by Australian POW’s in WWII. If you have ever seen Bridge on the River Kwai, you know about the Railway, but even then you may not be aware of the extreme cruelty and horrid conditions under which these men labored and died. I can scarcely bear to read about it, how on earth did any of them survive it? Is it any wonder that so few men who returned ever wanted to talk about these times and experiences?

Of course, this is a fiction, so there is a personal story that swims through the historical one. It is the story of Dorrigo Evans, a doctor who helps to hold together the men of the camp, and who suffers from his own anguish that stems from his affair with his uncle’s young wife. This book courses with realism, to an extent that is hard to bear. I found myself at many points simply unable to go any further without taking a step away from the book and the time that preyed on my mind so deeply. It must have been an excruciating book to write.

As well, I was constantly wanting to stop and record passages that bore remembering, particularly those dealing with the facing of the threat of death on a daily basis and those regarding memory.

Do you know the poem, Bonox? It’s by Kipling. It’s not about remembering. It’s about forgetting--how everything gets forgotten.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Neneveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

Nothing endures. Don't you see, Bonox? That's what Kipling meant. Not empires, not memories. We remember nothing. Maybe for a year or two. Maybe most of a life, if we live. Maybe. But then we will die, and who will ever understand any of this? And maybe we remember nothing most of all when we put our hands on our hearts and carry on about not forgetting."

If anything lays testament to the elusive nature of life, this ordeal does. These men are confronted with life as merely a path to death, and survival at any cost as a goal hardly worth holding onto. What one man is able to do to another, and to justify to themselves, is astonishing...and it is always astonishing, regardless of how many such stories you hear or how many such acts you witness.

I knew very well a man who had been a soldier in Vietnam. He found it difficult to talk about what he had seen in the jungles there, and yet, his mind never strayed far from that place or that time. He replayed events and lost people and atrocities that seemed impossible to have happened to such a sweet, kind American boy. I used to ponder over what he might have been had he not been haunted by that intrusion into his life, if he had never felt the need to drown his memories and silence those ghostly voices. I thought of him as I read this book. War is hell, in ways that even Sherman could not have imagined, and is it any wonder that those who survive are never the same?

The things he believed in were heading out to sea, vanishing, lost forever. The things he thought he was coming home to. The things that he had hoped to become and make his life. It turned out that they weren’t worth a brass razoo.

Can anyone ever atone for such horror? If you do such things but afterward live a life of “goodness”, does it matter? And, why do the good, the honest, the brave often suffer, while the vile, the horrid, the ones who make the hell even more hellish prosper and never pay?

He told himself that, through his service of this cosmic goodness, he had discovered he was not one man but many, that he could do the most terrible things he might otherwise have thought were evil if he had not known that they were in the service of the ultimate goodness. For he loved poetry above all, and the Emperor was a poem of one word…

And what of the good man who finds his own worth in the chaos and horror that is war?

He could never admit to himself that it was death that had given his life meaning.

Dorrigo Evans, Darky Gardiner, Tenji Nakamura, even Amy Mulvaney are characters I will likely never forget. What a deserving winner for the Man Booker, what a remarkable piece of literature, what an astounding capacity to glimpse into the souls of people Richard Flanagan displays. This is one of those rare books that make me wish Goodreads would give us one more button to push, because this book is not a five-star read, it is a ten.

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 144) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This novel would have been far more powerful and coherent if Amy were excised from the story. It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many P.O.W.’s in the Asian jungle, that is the beating heart of this book: an excruciating, terrifying, life-altering story that is an indelible fictional testament to the prisoners there. Taken by themselves, these chapters create a slim, compelling story: Odysseus’s perseverance through a bloody war and his return home at last to Penelope (in this case, Ella) and his efforts, like his fellow soldiers’, to see if he can put the horrors and suffering of war in the rearview mirror, and somehow construct a fulfilling Act II to a broken life.

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (13 mahdollista)

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Richard Flanaganensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Blommesteijn, AnkieKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu



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Mother, they write poems.

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For prisoner san byaku ju go (335)
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But sometimes things are said and they're not just words. They are everything that one person thinks of another in a sentence. Just one sentence. . . . . .There are words and words and none mean anything. And then one sentence means everything.
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"A novel of love and war that traces the life of one man--an Australian surgeon--from a prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway during World War II, up to the present"--

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