Richard Flanagan rails against wrongs ‘too vast to have a name’

‘Is it because we see our world only darkly that we surround ourselves with lies we call time, history, reality, memory, detail, facts?’ Richard Flanagan’s memoir opens at the Ohama coal mine in Japan, once home to his father and a host of other POW slave labourers. It then spirals outwards via his childhood (in a remote Tasmanian settlement), his much-put-upon mother (who hoped Richard would become a plumber), his semi-present, kindly, traumatised father Archie (enshrined in The Narrow Road to the Deep North) and on through all the now-familiar Flanagan themes. These include the horror of drowning; the Dickensian characters of 19th-century Van Diemen’s Land; the mighty Huon pine;