When I went to hear Sharon Draper talk about her new book, she explained why it had taken her so long. So many people, she said, had called Out of My Mind the “best book ever,” (and it is a very good book) that she started to wonder, “How do you write the book after the best book ever?”

Richard Flanagan now has that same problem. The Narrow Road is one of the most complete and powerful and beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every scene is necessary and every moment is perfect. The writing, the balanced characterizations, the shifts of time and place and memory – all of it is handled with such stunning grace that I never wanted this book to end.

In most novels, I am happy if I find a few richly drawn and fully human characters. Flanagan has produced an ensemble, and I am grateful that they live within me now.

It is one thing to know how human beings think, but it is another to articulate it in such a way that the reader thinks that the author has been studying his very soul.