Standing on the porch roof, he hauled up a wooden, hand-carved anchor and mounted it to the top of the facade. Below it he nailed a freshly painted sign that read, Anchor Bay Store. The name seemed appropriate because the few huddled and crumbling town buildings were intimately tied to the ships that anchored nearby.
Poetry irradiates this often bleak story of Australian POWs building the Burma Death Railway during the Second World War, presenting beauty and love as counterpoints to gory descriptions of suffering and inhumanity.
Dorrigo Evans was born in Cleveland, Tasmania, in the years just after the First World War, and overcame his lower-class origins to become a surgeon. In the novel's present day, he is a year-old war hero writing a preface to the sketchbook a fellow POW kept on the Death Railway.
But in life horror has no more form than it does meaning,' he eventually writes. That is Flanagan's challenge here: He maintains a careful balance of sympathy by shifting between the perspectives of the Australian POWs and their Japanese captors, and by setting up a tripartite structure: The narrative is quite intricate, slipping between past and present.
Sustaining Colonel Evans throughout his captivity is a secret passion for his uncle's wife, Amy. In alternating chapters, the gruesome reality of camp life contrasts with the optimism of this budding love affair. Sections from Amy's perspective are particularly strong, and the subplot of a fateful romance recalls Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong.
That and Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End are chief points of reference — especially how the Ford trilogy showcases the build-up and aftereffects of the war as well as its terrible heart.
Part Two zeroes in on day-to-day experience in the camp. It is a grim reality of cholera, savage beatings and near-starvation. In one memorable scene, Dorrigo tries to save a soldier's life by performing an emergency amputation; those who do not survive are burned on pyres.
There is some standard barracks humour, but pleasures are rare: Whereas the first third of the novel is incredibly powerful — almost a stand-alone novella — this second part drags and might have been shortened.
Still, it presents a stark picture of camp life: Less than a man, just material to be used to make the railway, like the…steel rails and dog spikes. One of the Korean guards from the camp is prosecuted as a war criminal.
Some of Dorrigo's comrades turn to drink; he also learns about his brother Tom's illegitimate son. A few of the vignettes seem irrelevant, including an action sequence involving a bush fire.
I wondered whether it was all necessary, or whether Flanagan was just having trouble deciding where to end. Major Nakamura's 'after' story is the most fascinating. He was among the 'better' Japanese; though he sanctioned brutality and spouted propaganda about the glory of the Empire, he at least treated Dorrigo as an equal.
After the war, we find Nakamura in a deserted Tokyo, fearing arrest and scrounging food. Degrees of violence and culpability come into question when Nakamura meets a doctor who performed live dissections on American airmen.
Even this hardened war criminal finds some acts unimaginable. Indeed, that is Flanagan's triumph: An absence of speech marks can at times foster detachment from the characters, but the writing is unfailingly beautiful. Japanese death poems and Tennyson's 'Ulysses' weave through as refrains, and the language is lyrical even when describing atrocities: War threatens human dignity, but people are never just a collection of body parts.
Flanagan's father, a survivor of the Burma Death Railway, died on the day Flanagan finished writing this novel. A great book compels you to reread your own soul. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra shares the theme of human dignity overcoming wartime violence.Beware Richard Flanagan’s new novel, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.” His story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away.
Main Content Things to See in Montana Geologic Road Signs.
Montana’s colorful history includes the stories told through geology. Since , the Montana Department of Transportation has installed nearly 50 roadside geological markers.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Penguin Classics) [Matsuo Basho, Nobuyuki Yuasa] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. 'It was with awe That I beheld Fresh leaves, green leaves, Bright in the sun' In his perfectly crafted haiku poems.
Reading “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Matsuo Basho May 29, November 5, I was reading the blog of the New York Times Review of Books and came across a particularly interesting article about author and translator Bill Porter (“ Finding Zen and Book Contracts in Beijing “).
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a difficult book to read. The depiction of the POWs building the Siam/Burma railway and enduring the sadistic cruelties of their Japanese guards is heart-wrenching.
Narrow Road to the Deep North is a satirical play on the British Empire by the English playwright Edward Bond (born ). It is a political parable set in Japan in the Edo period.
It deals with the poet Basho and the changing political landscape over about 35 years.