Winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is a novel of the cruelty of war, the tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love. Here are some reading group questions to help make your next book club discussion one to remember.
Reading Group Questions
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North has been described by Richard Flanagan as a dance in and out of the light. For all its darkness, how is this a book about hope?
- ‘Love is two bodies with one soul,’ we and Dorrigo read on the novel’s final page. Do you think about love differently having read The Narrow Road to the Deep North?
- Dorrigo Evans is a study in contrasts. What sort of character do you find him?
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North is in part a novel about memory. How does the book explore different notions of memory?
- Discuss the many portraits of individuals in the act of survival – both prisoners and guards – on the Thai–Burma death railway.
- In a confronting, often savage novel, there are many moments of humour. What does this humour say about humanity?
- How does Shisui’s death poem of a circle – a symbol of oblivion, eternity and eternal return – echo the novel’s larger themes?
- What does the chapter in which Dorrigo and Amy, after twenty-five years of separation and thinking each other dead, walk past each other on the Sydney Harbour Bridge say about love?
- And what would you do?