The winner of the Booker, announced Oct 14, The Narrow Road To The Deep North, by Richard Flanagan (RH/Knopf), arrives on the 11/2/14 NYT Hardcover Fiction list at #10.
It’s the ninth Booker winner in a row to hit the list, as the NYT BR‘s “Inside the List” column notes (the most successful of those, of course is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, followed by Anne Enright’s The Gathering).
The award has had a major impact on the author’s life. Flanagan recently told the Telegraph that the prize money saved him from turning to a “life down the mines,” adding, “I’m not a wealthy man. This means I can continue to write.”
Based on reviews, it may be difficult to find a way to recommend the book. Even fan Ron Charles warned in the Washington Post that this “story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can,” hardly a way to encourage potential readers.
Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, offers another way to look at it:
If your readers engaged with Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, or are fans of the timeless love story in Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera, they will absolutely love The Narrow Road To The Deep North, one of the most readable and emotionally available Booker winners in years.
It follows the story of an Australian doctor, Dorrigo Evans, who served in WWII and was captured, surviving several years in a POW camp. Through flashbacks, we learn about Evans’ long marriage as well as his true love. The latter part of the book reveals the fates of the various people from the POW camp — the story of which is the crux of the narrative.
It’s amazing and wonderful, and your customers will thank you. Book groups who don’t mind the shifting time periods will find much to talk about here, particularly if they’ve read Unbroken.