- File Size: 1924 KB
- Print Length: 465 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (January 10, 2012)
- Publication Date: January 10, 2012
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004X6PRO6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,192 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 465 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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“An exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.” —Pulitzer Prize citation
“All of these elements—stylistic panache, technical daring, moral weight and an uncanny sense of the current moment—combine in Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, the single best work of fiction published in 2012. . . . The book's cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The Orphan Master’s Son performs an unusual form of sorcery, taking a frankly cruel and absurd reality and somehow converting it into a humane and believable fiction. It’s an epic feat of story-telling. It’s thrillingly written, and it's just thrilling period.” —Zadie Smith, Los Angeles Times
“A great novel can take implausible fact and turn it into entirely believable fiction. That’s the genius of The Orphan Master’s Son. Adam Johnson has taken the papier-mâché creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable. This is a novel worth getting excited about, one which more than delivers on its pre-publication buzz… I haven’t liked a new novel this much in years, and I want to share the simple pleasure of reading the book. But I also think it’s an instructive lesson in how to paint a fictional world against a background of fact: The secret is research…It’s this process of re-imagination that makes the fictional locale so real and gives the novel an impact you could never achieve with a thousand newspaper stories. Johnson has painted in indelible colors the nightmare of Kim’s North Korea. When English readers want to understand what it was about — how people lived and died inside a cult of personality that committed unspeakable crimes against its citizens — I hope they will turn to this carefully documented story. The happy surprise is that they will find it such a page turner.” —The Washington Post
“Adam Johnson's remarkable novel The Orphan Master’s Son is set in North Korea, an entire nation that has conformed to the fictions spun by a dictator and his inner circle…Mr. Johnson is a wonderfully flexible writer who can pivot in a matter of lines from absurdity to atrocity…We don't know what's really going on in that strange place, but a disquieting glimpse suggesting what it must be like can be found in this brilliant and timely novel.” —Wall Street Journal
"A harrowing, clever, incomparable riff on life in Kim Jong Il's North Korea” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Magnificently accomplished…Part thriller, part coming-of-age novel, part romance, The Orphan Master’s Son is made sturdy by research…but what makes it so absorbing isn’t its documentary realism but the dark flight of the author's imagination…rich with a sense of discovery…The year is young, but The Orphan Master’s Son has an early lead on novel of 2012” —The Daily Beast
"Providing a rare glimpse into one of the world’s least known countries, Adam Johnson weaves a tale of hardship, romance, and redemption in North Korea in The Orphan Master’s Son." —National Geographic Traveler
“An incredibly vivid page-turner of a novel…Romance, coming-of-age tale, adventure and thriller all in one, this book is singular and not to be missed.” —The Huffington Post, 10 Best January Must-Reads
"The death of Kim Jong Il couldn't have come at a better time for novelist Adam Johnson. The Orphan Master’s Son is a richly textured political thriller about the hidden world of North Korea with all of its misery, violence and defiant acts of love under impossible circumstances. Stunning and evocative imagery abounds on every page.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Startling…Johnson's carefully layered story feels authentic...[He] writes light-footed prose, barely allowing harrowing glimpses of atrocity to register before accelerating onward. He resists the temptation to turn his subject matter into comic fodder, but never ignores the absurdity, provoking laughter with jagged edges that tends to die in your throat.” —Newsday
“Johnson’s novel accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an American writer has masterfully rendered the mysterious world of North Korea with the soul and savvy of a native, from its orphanages and its fishing boats to the kitchens of its high-ranking commanders. While oppressive propaganda echoes throughout, the tone never slides into caricature; if anything, the story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment—or worse—but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds. . . . Johnson juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] fantastical, careening tale…Informed by extensive research and travel to perhaps the most secretive nation on earth, Johnson has created a remarkable novel that encourages the willing suspension of disbelief.…Johnson winningly employs different voices, with the propagandizing national radio station serving as a mad Greek chorus. Part adventure, part coming-of-age tale, and part romance, The Orphan Master's Son is a triumph on every level.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Readers who enjoy a fast-paced political thriller will welcome this wild ride through the amazingly conflicted world that exists within the heavily guarded confines of North Korea. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“[A] vivid, violent portrait of a nation…[a] macabrely realistic, politically savvy, satirically spot-on saga. Johnson’s metathriller, spiked with gory intrigues and romantic subplots, is a ripping piece of fiction that is also an astute commentary on the nature of freedom, sacrifice, and glory in a world where everyone’s “a survivor who has nothing to live for.” —Elle
“Ambitious, violent, audacious—and stunningly good.” —O Magazine
“Adam Johnson has pulled off literary alchemy, first by setting his novel in North Korea, a country that few of us can imagine, then by producing such compelling characters whose lives unfold at breakneck speed. I was engrossed right to the amazing conclusion. The result is pure gold, a terrific novel.” —Abraham Verghese
“An addictive novel of daring ingenuity; a study of sacrifice and freedom in a citizen-eating dynasty; and a timely reminder that anonymous victims of oppression are also human beings who love. A brave and impressive book.” —David Mitchell
“I've never read anything like it. This is truly an amazing reading experience, a tremendous accomplishment. I could spend days talking about how much I love this book. It sounds like overstatement, but no. The Orphan Master's Son is a masterpiece.” —Charles Bock
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This a the story of Jun Do, a North Korean “John Do” whose jobs include kidnapping expatriated Koreans in Japan and a radio operator (and suspected spy) on a North Korean Fishing Boat who through an embellished encounter with the U.S. Navy becomes a National Hero. Becoming a National Hero is more a curse as he ends up paraded before a U.S. Senator in Texas in a naive attempt to embarrass the Americans. With the party going to America is on one Kim Jong-Il’s Secretary’s and Korean Hero, Commander Ga. When the American Summit doesnt go quite as planned. The real Commander Ga presumably disappears and Jun Do becomes Commander Ga because of a tattoo of Commander Ga’s wife, a North Korean movie star. Doesn’t make sense, read the book. This dream opportunity ends up with Jun Do, the new Commander Ga in a North Korean Torture Facility. The nonchalant way the interrogators view torture is inhuman. . There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no happiness. There is not a single bright moment. I have read a few books set in North Korea. And I have yet to read anything up beat. This is a country unlike any other country past or present. I think to call it Communist of Socialist is inaccurate. Even with the weakness of Communist Theory I don’t think this is what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels nor even Mao Zedong had in mind. This is a complete autocracy. Where every individual thought is weighed against the honor of the great leader. An absolute paranoid culture where even the slightest misstep can be viewed as an affront to the great leader. Where the price to pay is that an already meager life can be made even more meager and full of more suffering. A country where the “official story”, true or not, is the truth. If that is the desired truth of the Great Leader. Truth is manufactured and made official. This reminds me much of George Orwell’s “1984”. If Orwell was predicting anything it was North Korea. “Thought Control” is North Korea’s bread and Butter. Absolutely crucial to its existence. Isolation of travel, information, culture, and ideas is how it’s accomplished. It’s been done so effectively in North Korea that I am not sure the North Korea people can be helped. The “Thought Control” is so effective I don’t think they know how wrong their Society is. The story is written so well I, as the reader, even became confused on who the real Commander Ga was (read the book and you’ll understand). A glimpse into a world you’ll find hard to believe exists. Frightening the degree to which the masses can be controlled.
It is a gripping, chilling story. It exposes in excruciating detail the degraded lives of the people of North Korea through the experiences of the main character--a true "Everyman" but also "no man." Jun Do is "John Doe." He becomes Commander Ga because no one dares question this transformation--reality in North Korea is what the Dear Leader says it is.
The reader is drawn into this world, always hoping for some kind of redemption, knowing that only sacrifice--and being told the same thing--can perhaps achieve some sort of partial victory.
I couldn't put this book down. The characters continue to live for me, their stories and lives are part of me. A wonderful, wonderful book.
Without spoiling anything, the novel starts much like you'd expect a novel about North Korea: it's foreign, bleak and disturbing. The first part of the book introduces us to Pak Jun Do -- the Orphan Master's Son of the title -- and it progresses steadily until you think you know what to expect from this novel. But at the end of Part I (about 25% through) the author shifts the story so surprisingly, so audaciously, I couldn't help but pay closer attention. Once I was hooked, I couldn't put the book down.
The Orphan Master's Son is one of those great novels, like The Life of Pi, that's both accessible and profound. It takes you to emotional places you didn't think you'd go, and yet by the end it all seems inevitable that you'd end up there. The author also did an incredible job rendering every nuance of the North Korean social climate. It's as if someone who lived there all his life wrote The Orphan Master's Son.
Mr. Johnson's storytelling is so masterful, it took me back to the feeling I had when I first fell in love with reading. I imagine this hauntingly beautiful novel will stay with me for many years.
Top international reviews
Bearing in mind this is fiction, the narrative still projects a powerful real life message - something I an unlikely to forget anytime in the future.
I question how much information it gives you about life in North Korea as the author only spent a week there as far as I am aware but this is a novel and as such it is clever and enjoyable. If you want fact then read 'Nothing To Envy' by Barbara Demick, another excellent read but about the lives of real people who had lived in North Korea.
The life of the central character might be a little unbelievable, but it is thoroughly entertaining and I suspect that the author consciously made the story so inconceivable to show how unimportant truth is considered to be in North Korea. The author shows how the government decide what 'the truth' is and how even the most contradictory of stories has to be swallowed by the entire country.
I found the book to be well written. The author uses first and third person narratives as well as chapters that are told in the style of government announcements. I really like the way the change of styles help to add different perspectives to the story.
Reading the book didn't make me feel like an expert on North Korea, nor did it help me to empathise with the suffering of the North Korean people, but it was definitely enjoyable to read and I think Adam Johnson deserves the Pulitzer Prize he got for this book.