Story telling from Australia
It’s not often I read a book and instantly recommend it to everyone, but this year’s Man Booker prize winner – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Tasmanian Richard Flanagan – is one such book.
Please, when you can, read this book.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a book about war and the dreadful atrocities we humans are capable of inflicting on others; it’s also a book about the redemptive power of love and compassion.
I’ve been talking about love a lot in the past few weeks, visiting CWA meetings and libraries to talk about Love in the Outback (and thank you to all the wonderful people I met in Maitland, at Goodwin Village and in Jerry’s Plains earlier this week). I’ve reached the conclusion that love is the only truly effective weapon we can ever hope to find if we want to combat hatred, fear, ignorance and mistrust.
The media bombards us on a daily basis with images designed to strike fear into our hearts, fostering mistrust and making the world seem like a frightening place. It’s true, the world is a frightening place for many people, and there’s no denying that the Narrow Road to the Deep North explores the darkest side of human behaviour, detailing the brutality we’re all capable of if we turn away from love and let fear and hatred rule our lives. But it’s also the kind of book that gives you hope, a book that believes redemption is possible, that grace exists, that compassion and dignity are worth fighting for and that human beings are capable of truly great love.
I’m one of those people who look away in cinemas when the film gets too disturbing, and there were moments in this book when I had to do just that.
The chairman of the judging panel called it ‘a masterpiece’ but don’t let that put you off. The Narrow Road to the Deep North isn’t a difficult book, it’s a beautiful, harrowing, awful book and I urge you to read it.