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The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014. A novel of the cruelty of war, tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

Subject: Contemporary Fiction

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014. A novel of the cruelty of war, tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

'The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a big, magnificent novel of passion and horror and tragic irony. Its scope, its themes and its people all seem to grow richer and deeper in significance with the progress of the story, as it moves to its extraordinary resolution. It's by far the best new novel I've read in ages.' - Patrick McGrath

'Beyond comparison . . . an immense achievement . . . Wilfred Owen wrote of his Great War verse: 'My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity.' Flanagan's triumph is to find poetry without any pity at all.' - Geordie Williamson, The Australian

‘A story of war and star-crossed lovers, the novel is also a profound meditation on life and time, memory and forgetting . . . a magnificent achievement.' - Katharine England, Adelaide Advertiser

'A masterpiece . . . The Narrow Road is an extraordinary piece of writing and a high point in an already distinguished career.' - Michael Williams, The Guardian

2014 University of Queensland Fiction Book Award - (Winner);
2014 Prime Minister's Literary Award - (Joint winner);
2014 Colin Roderick Award - (Shortlisted);
2014 Man Booker Prize - (Winner);
2014 Western Australia Premier's Book Award - (Winner);
2014 Western Australia Premier's Book Award - Fiction - (Winner);
2014 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction - (Shortlisted);
2014 Independent Booksellers Award - (Winner);

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Japanese Poetry series.

1. Haiku

What is Haiku?
Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.
Largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, this independence was formally established in the 1890s through the creation of the term haiku. This new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain.
Strictly speaking, then, the history of haiku begins only in the last years of the 19th century. The famous verses of such Edo-period (1600-1868) masters as Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa are properly referred to as hokku and must be placed in the perspective of the history of haikai even though they are now generally read as independent haiku. In HAIKU for PEOPLE, both terms will be treated equally! The distinction between hokku and haiku can be handled by using the terms Classical Haiku and Modern Haiku.

Modern Haiku.
The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki's reform, begun in 1892, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki's reform did not change two traditional elements of haiku: the division of 17 syllables into three groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme.
Kawahigashi Hekigoto carried Shiki's reform further with two proposals:
Haiku would be truer to reality if there were no center of interest in it.
The importance of the poet's first impression, just as it was, of subjects taken from daily life, and of local colour to create freshness.

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The Heike
is a war tale from the 13th century, recording the fights between the Taira (or Heike) and Minamoto (or Genji) klans. The first 8 lines of the novel is actually a poem, not waka, but quite similar to Western poetry, therefore it is almost always included into the curriculum of any course on Japanese literature.

First, the English translation (P.G.O'Neill):

The knell of the bells at the Gion temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things.
The colour of the flowers on its double-trunked tree
Reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall.
He who is proud is not so for long,
Like a passing dream on a night in spring.
He who is brave is finally destroyed,
To be no more than dust before the wind.

Gion shouja no kane no koe
shogyou mujou no hibiki ari.
Shara souju no hana no iro
jousha hissui no kotowari o arawasu.
Ogoreru hito mo hisashikarazu,
Tada haru no yo no yume no gotoshi.
Takeki mono mo tsui ni horobinu.
Hitoe ni kaze no mae no chiri ni onaji.

Sourch :

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The Jisei of Matsuo Basho
(Japanese Death Poem)

Tabi ni yande
yuma wa kareno o
I dont have at hand any "official" translation, but the meaning roughly is:
"Falling sick on a journey, my dream goes around above withered fields."
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