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Listening to the Silence

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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan

So many stories are told about the events of WWII, but for some reason they tend to focus on what was happening in Europe and ignore the events happening across the globe. The cruelty with which the Japanese are known to have treated the nations they conquered and POWs cannot be equaled. Though they did not practice genocide, much of what they did is comparable to the cruelty of the Nazis. 


This is a story of an Australlian surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, who is struggling not only to keep himself alive, but also the men who serve under him as POWs toiling on the Thai-Burmese railway. Conditions were astonishingly grim. Sickness, disease, starvation, and grevious bodily harm were the daily companions of Dorrigo and his men. Alongside this, Dorrigo is haunted by the memory of an affair he had before leaving for the war. This affair will have consequences that echo through his life until his dying day. 


I finished this book a week ago, and I am still struggling to find words to adequetly describe my feelings about it. It is exceptionally well-written, particuarly the characterization of the soldiers in the POW camp and the descriptions of their suffering. I also loved how the author was able to tie together the seemingly unimportant events of the novel's opening to a shocking revelation near the end. The whole thing just blew me away, start to finish. It is grim and upsetting, but a war novel dealing with the events of which this one does, should be. It is also incredibly beautiful and moving. The language used is profound and lyrical. I highlighted many passages in this book, something I rarely feel the need to do. My only quibble with this book is that I often preferred when the book told the story through the eyes of the soldiers serving with Dorrigo or his wife. Dorrigo was a hard man to understand, though he is not unlikable. 


I can not understand why this book has not received more buzz among readers. It is exactly the type of book that readers of literary fiction seem to love and absolutely deserving of the Man Booker prize it won. I highly recommend this book and can not rave about it enough. I am certain it will make my top ten this year.