Shortlist year: 2014

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Penguin Random House

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014. A novel of the cruelty of war, 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.

About the author


Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His six novels are published in forty-two countries and have received numerous honours, including the 2014 Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Judges’ comments

Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North revisits the familiar narrative of the Australian prisoner of war in World War Two, working as a slave on the Thai-Burma railway.

Inspired by the public history of men like Weary Dunlop and the private story of his own father, prisoner 335, this novel makes painful and heart-felt reading. The well-known story is freed from cliché, as it examines the limits of heroism, the meaning of leadership, our capacity for cruelty, ideas of fidelity and loyalty, our savagery, and the flaws that bind together ordinary men and women.

Allowing space to understand both Australian prisoners and their Japanese guards, Flanagan argues for understanding rather than forgiveness. Past and present, war and peace, Australia and Japan, illicit and sanctioned passions are interwoven to show the complexity of human experience. This is a novel that is grand in both its ambitions and its achievement.