I’ve read several excellent novels this year, including Marilyn Robinson’s justly acclaimed Lila, but the novel that truly dazzled me was Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The writing throughout is superb, and at times so vivid that I felt unmoored from my own world and completely in the author’s. The questions the novel tackles are the big ones, including what are the best and worst of what we humans can be, or become. Flanagan’s book blasts apart the canard that realism in fiction is played out. The Narrow Road to the Deep North is not a perfect novel, but I believe it is a great one. As J.M. Coetzee says of the fiction that truly matters, “it is the battle pitched on the highest ground.”
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