A special edition of Richard Flanagan’s 2013 novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North has been acquired by the National Library of Australia and is now on display in the Treasures Gallery.
Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan was awarded the Booker Prize for best English-language novel in 2014 for his haunting work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Upon receipt of the award, he was presented with a special edition of the novel, intricately bound by Sue Doggett.
The one-of-a-kind item was donated by the author to a charity auction organised by Australian artist Ben Quilty. Proceeds from the auction were donated to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The successful bidder subsequently presented the book to the Library, where it is currently on display in the Treasures exhibition gallery.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Flanagan’s sixth novel. It explores the life of a fictitious Second World War surgeon named Dorrigo Evans. It recounts his modest origins in Tasmania, his experiences as a prisoner of war during the construction of the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway, and his post-war celebrity in Australia. The novel was influenced by Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese.
While mateship is a major theme, at its core the novel is about memory. Haunted by the war, Evans is an imperfect character whose internal struggles are shielded from an adoring Australian public, who venerate him as a war hero.
The special presentation copy can be viewed at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The Library also holds the papers of Richard Flanagan, which contain draft manuscripts of many of the authors works.