The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North follows the life of an Australian surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, during World War II. The novel explores his experiences as a prisoner of war, his relationships with fellow captives, and his enduring love for his uncle’s wife. It delves into themes of love, loss, survival, and the profound impact of war on individuals’ lives.

Author: Richard Flanagan
List: Recent Prize Winner
Project: Orpheusfleeting nature of happiness / love and trust
Project: WarWorld War II
Year of publication: 2013
Pages: 467





Plot Complexity: high
Language Complexity: high
Ideas Complexity: high

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan can be categorized as a novel with a Blue Label (high) in terms of plot complexity. It encompasses multiple plot lines and incorporates flashbacks, creating a layered and intricate narrative structure. The language used can be categorized as Blue Label (high). It employs a sophisticated and expressive language, incorporating advanced vocabulary and complex sentence structures. The novel showcases literary artistry and uses vivid imagery, contributing to a nuanced and immersive reading experience. In terms of ideas, it can be classified as a Blue Label (high) novel as well, exploring complex themes and presenting thought-provoking elements that challenge readers’ perspectives.


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

Richard Flanagan’s story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho’s travel journal, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

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