Wonderful Books, Marvelous Authors

Australian author Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North is an ambitious account of his father’s POW status with the Japanese captors in World War a course in miracles. Almost certainly, there is a blinding light of brilliance in the copious prose of the story. Amid WWII, in 1943, a group of Australian POW (prisoner of war) captives was captured by Japanese soldiers and made to labor away in the deep jungles of Java, to what purpose? To build the Thailand-Burma railroad or “Death Railway” from Bangkok to Rangoon slashing through the Burmese jungle. With no food or water for these dying captives, starvation and heinous deceases takes over them completely.

Two characters particularly stand out and I kept thinking about them throughout my reading of the book: Amy, Ella, and especially, Darky Gardiner (author’s father) in terms of their emotional quotient to the entire heart-touching story. Darky Gardiner’s death in the jungle was impossible to believe and difficult to accept! The circumstances under which he dies shocked me. For the doctor, Dorrigo Evans, returning to Amy was a foregone conclusion, and Ella, goodness poor Ella!

The book reads like a long sonnet. The narrative is magnificent. It won the 2014 Booker. Very well-deserved though. But I have a hinge: “The Lives of Others” by Neel Mukherjee could have been the one to win the Booker Prize. Is it cheeky of me to suggest that? Nope. However, I do sympathize with the heartfelt story of the book “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” winning the Booker.

I mean… sure… “The Narrow Road… ” was a difficult book which took many years to write, yet I felt “The Lives of Others” was far better and more complex to constituting a literary epic like that, and is an intricate piece of narrative (it reads like a dream) than the one which was adjudged the winner. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both the books and that’s why I could shape my own safe supposition. Read these two special books to know what shining gems they are. They are truly marvelous works of contemporary English literature.

I’ve recently wrapped up reading “Lisey’s Story” and I had a great experience. A tomb of over 550 pages that I’d labored through was definitely worth my time! I figured it would be a horror story that Mr. Stephen King is so famous for, but no, in a way it isn’t. Rather, it’s more of a psychological thriller that seems to haunt you till the end.

For me, the supposed ‘action’ (minimalist though) starts at the 248th page (I noted it down) and from that point on it is unstoppable. Prior to that, however, it was a little tedious, I’m afraid, to wade through the first half of the novel. The first half of the story lacked action that I was anticipating but that’s okay, it didn’t always have to be like that; in fact, the book is about finding the epic subtle elements in unremarkable things in Lisey’s and her husband’s life and her sisters’, that also includes Mr. King’s staple: black humor. Epic is the word for it. I’d persevered and was rewarded with the brilliant second half with a fair bit of ‘action’ I was so craving for. It’s been like goodbye to sleep when I was reading the better half of the novel. Over and above this I’ve just mentioned, I think I can tell you adoring the story was no problem, especially the kind of harrowing childhood experiences Scott or Scoot had really moved me. Writing is great, lucid and typical King style.

If you want to read a book that is replete with adventure, history, intrigue, revenge, and romance then you ought to read Wilbur Smith books. He is one of my favorite authors. Apart from the riveting descriptions of storms, high seas, and search and rescue of ocean-going salvage tugs, Mr. Smith is exemplary in his writing about ships during storms; in fact, that’s the best part of the book. Of course, Africa is still his specialty and always will be but “Hungry as the Sea” is a good stand-alone adventure-thriller. I strongly recommend this book. A must read.

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