AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 4695875357608800097.jpg
Cover image courtesy of publisher.
y separately published work icon The Narrow Road to the Deep North single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 2013... 2013 The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

'August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

'This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.' (Publisher's blurb)

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Senior Secondary (Literature Unit 3)

Themes

bravery, cruelty and futility of war, good and evil, heroism, hope, Japanese, love, mateship, memory, national spirit, survival, war

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia

Notes

  • Dedication: For prisoner san byaku san ju go (335)
  • Epigraph:

    A bee

    staggers out

    of the peony.

    – Basho

  • Epigraph: Mother, they write poems. -Paul Celan
  • On 15 March 2018, it was announced that FremantleMedia had secured the television rights to the novel, but no further information on the adaptation had been released.

  • Other formats: Also sound recording; large print; ebook

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Random House , 2013 .
      image of person or book cover 4695875357608800097.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 480p.
      Note/s:
      • Publication date: 23 September 2013
      ISBN: 9781741666700
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Chatto and Windus ,
      2014 .
      image of person or book cover 9204154548041508837.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 448p.
      Note/s:
      • Publication date: 03 July 2014
      ISBN: 9780701189051
    • North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Random House Australia , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 8827421877792129645.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 467p.
      Note/s:
      • Published November 2014
      ISBN: 9780857980366
    • North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Random House Australia , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 381526405111472686.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 496p.
      Edition info: Commemorative Edition
      Note/s:
      • Published: 1st December 2014
      ISBN: 9780857987921
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage ,
      2015 .
      image of person or book cover 8434093239156605766.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 448p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 26 March 2015.
      ISBN: 9780099593584
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Vintage International ,
      2015 .
      image of person or book cover 694142384872964459.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 397p.p.
      ISBN: 9780804171472, 0804171475
Alternative title: De smalle weg naar het verre noorden
Language: Dutch
    • Antwerp, Belgium, Western Europe, Europe,: De Bezige Bij , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 7229743052354676829.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 388p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 16 August 2014
      ISBN: 9789085425700, 9085425700

Works about this Work

'Shades of the Prison House': Reading Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Peter Carey’s Amnesia Martin Staniforth , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing , vol. 53 no. 5 2017; (p. 578-589)

'Australian writers from Marcus Clarke to the present day have used convictism to explore the way in which settler Australians have viewed their past and its influence on contemporary society. Convict fictions have been central to creating and reinforcing these Australians’ sense of their identity and history, and the form of the convict novel has been resistant to attempts to rewrite the traditional narrative of the past. This article argues that the underlying tropes and patterns of the convict novel have also shaped the ways in which other historical fictions have represented the past. It looks in detail at two recent fictions which use the conventions of the convict novel to examine more recent periods of Australian history and suggests that, like the traditional convict novel, their attempts to rewrite the settler narrative have been undermined by a nostalgia for the past which that narrative depicts.' (Abstract)

Wandering in Intersectional Time : Subjectivity and Identity in Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North Victoria Genevieve Reeve , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Special Issue Website Series , no. 34 2016;
'Using hokku poet Bashō’s aesthetics of wandering, as defined by Thomas Heyd, I argue that, by detailing the excruciating pointlessness of work undertaken according to commands that take little or no account of their feasibility, Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (which takes its title from Bashō) transforms the features of this aesthetics into the lived experience of prisoners of war on the ‘line’. In doing so, Flanagan transfers Bashō’s aesthetics into a represented actuality through the privileging of subjectivity over identity and the dissolution of the body on the line. The three prongs to Bashō’s aesthetics are found in Flanagan’s novel. In this, Flanagan is identifying the complexity of meanings evident in the terminology of such aesthetics, rendering what appears positive in the context of Bashō’s poetry negative in its practical application as this is articulated through the prisoners’ wartime experiences. Rather than being formative, Flanagan’s novel suggests wartime experience has a complexly ‘opposite’ effect. This is apparent in the complications of identity represented in postwar terms as a disunity (rather than a coherent unity), as articulated through the use of spatial metaphors that reverse the formative intensities of subjectivity and body through symbolic acts of dispersal and dissolution.' (Publication abstract)
Winning Storeys Take Out Top Five Aussie Bestsellers Jason Steger , 2016 single work
— Appears in: The Age , 8 January 2016; (p. 8)
12 Books Every Australian Should Read Anna Vallen , 2016 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Geographic [Website] , February 2016;
'Take a literary journey to the interior with these 12 must-read Australian books, representing a cross section of Australian literature, meditating on landscape, history and what makes us Australian.'
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and the De-Sacralisation of the Nation Lars Jensen , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Le Simplegadi , no. 16 2016; (p. 74-85)

Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North represents yet another addition to the catalogue of Australian war experience literature. The awards and accompanying praise the novel has earned since its release in 2013 reflects a widespread appreciation of its ability to reimagine Australia in a saturated terrain. Flanagan’s novel can be read as a critique of the rise of militant nationalism emerging in the wake of Australia’s backing of Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and the idea that the arrival of boat refugees requires a military and militant response. This article discusses how the novel’s shift from battle heroics to the ordeal of POWs in the Thai jungle represents a reimagining – away from the preoccupation with epic battles – but not necessarily a challenge to the overriding emphasis on baptism of fire narratives as the only truly national narratives.

Full Text PDF

Poetry without a Shred of Pity Geordie Williamson , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 28-29 September 2013; (p. 21)

— Review of The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work novel
Light and Shadow Peter Conrad , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Monthly , October no. 94 2013; (p. 60-65)

— Review of The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work novel ; Eyrie Tim Winton , 2013 single work novel
Barometer of Torment Morag Fraser , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 12 October 2013; (p. 30-31)

— Review of The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work novel
Elusive Nobility James Ley , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , October no. 355 2013;

— Review of The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work novel
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan Romy Ash , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 29 October 2013;

— Review of The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work novel
A Ragged Pair of Claws Stephen Romei , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 21-22 September 2013; (p. 19)
Freeing My Father Richard Flanagan , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: Good Weekend , 21 September 2013; (p. 24-25) The Canberra Times , 21 September 2013;
War through Prism of Love Blanche Clark , 2013 single work interview
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 21-22 September 2013; (p. 19)
A Ragged Pair of Claws Stephen Romei , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 12-13 October 2013; (p. 19)
This One's Personal Phil Brown , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane News , 16-22 October no. 953 2013; (p. 12)
Last amended 15 Mar 2018 14:43:18
Settings:
  • Burma-Thailand Railway,
    c
    Burma,
    c
    Southeast Asia, South and East Asia, Asia,
  • 1943
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X