It won the Booker but I didn’t enjoy it at all. The horrors of the railway are overwritten and, somehow, that takes away authenticity as does the repetition of the mud, the waste and the cholera. If you’d really been there would you constantly restate the horror?
The sex is pretty so-so and you can’t help but think that Amy was mostly a phone call away and the book could have been sorted earlier. The mix of sex and war reminded me of ‘The White Hotel’ which came first and is maybe a better book. I didn’t like the way that the hero constantly distanced himself from life either. As for the tidy just desserts meted out to the Japanese soldiers in later life and the view of Japanese culture – I wasn’t convinced by that either.
Higher meaning? Life’s futile, we all die, war is just an episode in the flow of existence – neither noble nor helpful.