RaveThe Observer (UK)Atticus Lish...has written a stunning, brilliant novel about the ignored underclass in America ... Foreboding hangs over this story from the first page ... Lish is merciless on the Chinese who are bent on making money and pay the lowest possible rates to vulnerable people like Zou Lei. There are no days off. This is a world which I doubt any writer has ever explored in such minute and telling detail ... Lish seems to have walked every street and every alley and every bar and every small business for miles around...His ear for working-class and military language is devastating (he came to writing after a spell as a marine and a spell as a Chinese translator), and his descriptions of life at ground level are both original and disturbing, and without proselytising. Every word, every encounter, rings true ... This is a wonderfully ambitious book, demanding and unflinching, and one of the finest novels I have read in years.
RaveThe IndependentWhite, like most writers, has taken inspiration from the struggles, both artistic and personal, of great artists and used them to validate and elevate his own rapprochement with life, and to understand and lend dignity to his own journey from the Mid West to New York and on to Paris and London ... I cannot even begin to estimate how many penises are described in this book, nor how many acts of fellatio, subjugation and - later - sado-masochism are listed. But it is clear that White is determined to transform degradation into saintliness ... This is an astonishing and wonderfully well-written biography, revealing a capacious mind and a generous and remarkable person.
MixedThe GuardianThe Narrow Road to the Deep North is extraordinarily ambitious. It is perhaps too ambitious, although ambition is not a sin in my book. There are moments of great beauty but also moments of great bathos … The prisoners have to walk seven miles each way through the jungle before they start work, often day and night. Towards the end some are crawling or dying. But still they are beaten. It is appallingly graphic, and very hard to read, page after page ... This is a heroic book marred by its determination to demonstrate high seriousness, which often collapses into pop philosophy. But for all its overstriving, this is a book you should read. It is unquestionably a work of astonishing energy and Richard Flanagan is unquestionably highly talented.