From the author of the acclaimed Gould's Book of Fish, a magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present. Read more...
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From the author of the acclaimed Gould's Book of Fish, a magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present.
August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever. A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-06-23
- Reviewer: Staff
From bestselling Australian writer Flanagan (Gould’s Book of Fish) comes a supple meditation on memory, trauma, and empathy that is also a sublime war novel. Initially, it is related through the reminiscences of Dorrigo Evans, a 77-year-old surgeon raised in Tasmania whose life has been filtered through two catastrophic events: the illicit love affair he embarked on with Amy Mulvaney, his uncle’s wife, as a young recruit in the Australian corps and his WWII capture by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. Most of the novel recounts Dorrigo’s experience as a POW in the Burmese jungle on the “speedo,” horrific work sessions on the “Death Railway” that leave most of his friends dead from dysentery, starvation, or violence. While Amy, with the rest of the world, believes him dead, Dorrigo’s only respite comes from the friends he tries to keep healthy and sane, fellow sufferers such as Darky Gardiner, Lizard Brancussi, and Rooster MacNiece. Yet it is Dorrigo’s Japanese adversary, Major Nakamura, Flanagan’s most conflicted and fully realized character, whose view of the war—and struggles with the Emperor’s will and his own postwar fate—comes to overshadow Dorrigo’s story, especially in the novel’s bracing second half. Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching in its treatment of death, this is a powerful novel. 50,000-copy first printing. (Aug.)