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Eye Opening Information - Heart Wrenching Story,
This review is from: The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize - Fiction) (Hardcover)
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The Orphan Master's Son introduced me to a style of writing that was initially uncomfortable: trauma narrative. The author teaches creative writing at Stanford, so he crafts the shifts in perspectives and chronology, and uses vehicles of narration such as propaganda loudspeakers to assist in moving the story along while adding depth to the North Korean experience.
Much of my understanding of the purpose of the propaganda and seemingly pointless interchanges between characters didn't occur until the last half of the book, as the author slowly brings all the fractured pieces together, much in the way a real life investigation might progress, with a piece of evidence here, a testimony there, etc.
In retrospect, I can say that it was a book well worth reading, both for the gritty understanding of a ravaged country under the control of a mad man, and for an appreciation of the art of trauma narrative.
I wouldn't read this as a bedtime story to children. I was horrified by the torture, casual violence, miserable living conditions, and the way the demented mind of a leader can pervade and twist all of reality for an entire nation. It's also a lot of pages. As I waded in and got lost, horrified, and a bit traumatized, myself, I almost put it down and walked away. I'm glad I persisted, because the end result was every bit as satisfying as the movie "Casablanca," referred to in this story for analogy purposes. Moreover, I now think back over that movie and shift my perspective to a trauma narration, which adds even greater understanding to the motivations of its characters.
This new perspective shift is a gift from the author, seen by some as a "towering literary achievement." And perhaps it is. To find out, hike up your emotional britches and wade in.