'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)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Senior Secondary (Literature Unit 3)
bravery, cruelty and futility of war, good and evil, heroism, hope, Japanese, love, mateship, memory, national spirit, survival, war
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social
Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
of the peony.
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.
'This article explores historical and literary connections between Australia and Japan through Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013). The novel calls attention to differing military narratives as constructed by aggressor and victimized nations through representing Australian prisoners of war captured by the Imperial Japanese Army to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. The article serves as an exploratory study in how The Narrow Road might be taught in a Japanese university course on Japan-Australia relations through literary texts. Previous scholarship on the novel has not addressed its subject matter in relation to Japan’s continuing equivocations about its activities during the Asia-Pacific War. The article therefore explores how Australian fiction might stimulate discussion among Japanese students about contentious aspects of their nation’s history, and lead to the cultivation of cross-cultural knowledge and empathy through imagining lives that are different from their own.'(Publication abstract)
'The ability of literary prizes to sway literary tastes and shape cultural discourse has long been explored through the decisions made by the prize judging panel. The jury of experts, who bring with them symbolic capital and are often regarded as representing a nation’s sophisticated literary palate, have been the subject of extensive scholarship. However, there is a selection process that occurs prior to the commencement of the official or public adjudication. The entry guidelines for individual literary prizes ensure that particular authors and titles will not, or cannot, be considered for the prize and are, therefore, excluded from the symbolic and economic rewards that come with being shortlisted for and winning a literary prize. How do literary prize eligibility requirements limit access to the prestige and promotion that comes with a literary prize? How does the issue of exclusivity influence the ways prizes run, the winners that are chosen and, ultimately, the field-wide conceptions of prize-winning writing?' (Introduction)