The Narrow Road to the Deep North and the De-sacralisation of the Nation

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Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North represents yet another addition to the catalogue of Australian war experience literature. The
awards and accompanying praise the novel has earned since its release in 2013
reflect a widespread appreciation of its ability to reimagine Australia in a saturated terrain. Flanagan’s novel can be read as a critique of the rise of militant
nationalism emerging in the wake of Australia’s backing of Bush’s ‘war on terror’
and the idea that the arrival of boat refugees requires a military and militant
response. This article discusses how the novel’s shift from battle heroics to
the ordeal of POWs in the Thai jungle represents a reimagining – away from the
preoccupation with epic battles – but not necessarily a challenge to the overriding
emphasis on baptism of fire narratives as the only truly national narratives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLe Simplegadi
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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