The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master s Son is Books In a stunning feat of imagination Johnson puts us inside Jun Do yep John Doe a North Korean orphan who stumbles from poverty to a job as body double for a Hero of

The Orphan Master's Son is Books In a stunning feat of imagination, Johnson puts us inside Jun Do (yep, John Doe), a North Korean orphan who stumbles from poverty to a job as body double for a Hero of the Eternal Revolution. The closed world of North Korea revealed here—where businessmen are conscripted to work in the rice fields and the ruthless Kim Jong-il is still the Dear Leader—goes beyond anything Orwell ever imagined. The Orphan Master’s Son veers from cold terror to surrealistic humor with ease, and succeeds as both a thriller and a social satire. Put it on your shelf next to Catch-22.. An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master s Son follows a young man s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother a singer stolen to Pyongyang and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orpAn epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master s Son follows a young man s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother a singer stolen to Pyongyang and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.Considering himself a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world, Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress so pure, she didn t know what starving people looked like Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today s greatest writers.. Good Ebook The Orphan Master's Son CITIZENS, gather 'round the individualistic screens of your capitalistically-exploited folding-computers and other pocket-sized computational devices! The Dear Reviewer has much omniscient wisdom and many synoptic truths to impart! Set aside your Facebook and Twitter feeds and summon every last ounce of patriotic love for and devotion to the Democratic People’s Republic of Goodreads in order to focus your cluttered Western minds and screen-worn eyes for several uninterrupted minutes on this update of paramount significance from your Dear Reviewer![END TRANSMISSION]A Terse Intrusion of Self-AwarenessI’ve been really fascinated and concerned with North Korea for years now. I didn’t suddenly take an interest now that I’ve ex-patriated to South Korea, to Incheon, more specifically, which is a mid-sized metropolis only a handful of miles from the mine-filled border separating N./S. Korea. But I can’t deny that reading this book now (after a few months of becoming more intimate with Korean culture and history, both through Korean people and the further reading of books and viewing of documentaries{1}) doesn’t have some influence on my reading. I just don’t know exactly what that influence is. In any case, I find these kind of meta-review musings to quickly become tiresome at this point in my GRing career and only worth a severely limited number of keystrokes, so I’ll leave it to rest—right—here.____________________________________________{1}Kimjongilia — A fantastic documentary largely consisting of interviews with former North Koreans who’ve managed to escape the country.Crossing the Line — A documentary about a former US Army soldier who willingly crossed the DMZ in the early 60’s and defected to North Korea. He’s lived there for 46 years. A truly bizarre story. Fascinating stuff. Watch the whole thing on YouTube here.A State of Mind — A documentary about two young girls training for North Korea’s annual, jaw-dropping spectacle known as Mass Games. Whole thing is here.Inside North Korea — One of the first documentaries I watched. Another fascinating look into the country. Watch it here. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick — Read the first chapter online here.____________________________________________Exploded PreconceptionsThe Orphan Master’s Son really defied and surpassed my expectations in at least two basic ways:1. As a whole, this novel was even more enjoyable and impressive than I was excitedly expecting based upon this great review of it—the review that instantly caused my cursor to float over the ‘add to my books’ button and my finger to give the clicking go-ahead.2. Once inside the book it circumnavigated my plot point projections and hypotheses and went in directions—both in story and style—that I didn’t possibly see coming, not in the slightest.Begin With Not Knowing Where To BeginThe book is jam-packed with so much well-crafted, deeply-researched and deftly-executed writing that it’s difficult to know where to begin, and like with many great books, when I get down into trenches of the review I have to eventually just leave my desire to drop in copious details (and potential spoilers) at the door and just go ahead give the mountain-top view in panoramic snapshots. [I’ll forego all plot overviews and focus on stylistic and thematic ones. For a good synopsis see the one in the above-linked review and couple that with the publisher’s for good measure.]Positioning the PenThe prose is rich without being decadent. There’s a beautiful restraint and writerly self-control to be felt that also doesn’t sacrifice beauty for utility or baroque verbosity for inelegance or bareness. It reminded me in a distant way of the pitch-perfection of several other language-master authors that have little else in common, namely the recent efforts of both Ben Marcus and Heidi Julavits.I read a lot of experimental/surreal fiction, and love much of it, and this book is so reality-based and amazingly well-researched—yet—since it’s based on such a strange, time-warp reality such as North Korea, it sometimes brushes up against similarly bizarre tones and registers but with the more extreme heartrending ends that seriously reality-based fiction can deliver on its best days.So many vivid descriptions are stuck to my memory now. The roiling black waters of the freezing ocean. The slowly suffocating shark’s eyes being "stupid with death." The nightly pitch-black of Pyongyang. The unthinkable hunger of comrades. The terrible blue flash of would-be escapees colliding with electric fences. The daily propagandistic bombardment of the omnipresent loudspeaker in e’ry housing block, factory and street corner. The barely imaginable callousness and sadism of professional interrogators and the barely imaginable pain they inflict upon those they pry confessions from. The grateful (and desperate) eating of things like flowers, cow’s blood, and the raw flesh of snared song birds. The ability to sacrifice human life—both one’s own and one’s loved ones—in circumstances most modern human beings find utterly mind-boggling to contemplate, if contemplated seriously at all.Soldering the StructureThroughout the vast latter portion of the book the narrative bounces back and forth between two basic periods not too distant from each other—one revealing some very major developments to come in the other. But there’s some doubt about the reliability of the narration that’s planted by the ingenious use of multiple POVs and contradictory accounts of the same incidents, namely that of The State via Loudspeaker Propaganda and those of individual citizens, those of which often lie to themselves and to one another, as is the natural outcome in an environment simmering with such potent levels of fear and paranoia. But even in knowing the tragic outcomes of various narrative strands I still found myself so enthralled, gripping my stupid-but-necessary Kindle with widened eyes, and under the spell of a totally bought-into hope ‘n’ desire for the Good Guys To Win, for Happy Resolutions to blossom at the tips of such storied trajectories. I rooted for our protagonists all the way, hope against hope. That’s the sign of a truly riveting book: one that can tell you rather explicitly that things won’t work out the way you want them to and yet there you are, hungrily flipping pages, hoping and wanting all the same.Capitalism v. CommunismTo not put too fine a point on it let me start with a blunt assertion: The problem is tyranny, the consolidation of too much power in too few hands, and a lack of blending the best of both socio-economic models that falls somewhere in the range of social democracies of the sort we see in large parts of Western Europe today. The US seems a good candidate for the poster boy for all that Capitalism does wrong: its excesses, its moral callousness, its severe intrusion into and subsequent sullying of the democratic process, and so forth. And North Korea is a perfect example of all that Communism does wrong: reducing the individual to total subservience to the State, stifling creativity and innovation in favor of narrow utility, the willingness to tyrannically punish and censor and limit people’s ability to criticize the State, and so forth. Both forces if not tempered by the good of their opposition, have the tendency to lead to dire consequences.As much as I detest North Korea, thinking deeply about it is a legitimate exercise of the noblest aspirations of Liberal Democracy and culturally sensitive philosophy. Of course, my final analysis remains more or less the same (which is that NK is a monstrous dictatorship that ideally would fall and be absorbed by the South) but in taking the time and effort to somewhat suspend judgment and vigorously question my presuppositions, I felt a renewed confidence in such assessments and a deeper appreciation for the (relatively flawed as they may be) positions I tend to take on, not only governmental and economic structures but on ethics itself. North Korea is fucked up. So is America. But they’re not equally fucked up, and in this stance I find something redeeming, something that is obvious at first glance to many already convinced of the goodness of certain ideologies, but something I now feel doubly confident in after having given myself over to the very real possibility that my blind spots are just as blind and convincing as those whom I witness as unfortunate victims of brutally degrading tyrannical states.Love and TransparencyOne of the great, enduring messages of the book is simply that love is being totally honest with another person. This trite truism could be easily cast aside by jaded, modern, 21st century sophisticates (ahem) but put into the context of a story where people are constantly getting their stories straight, being turned in to the secret police and sent off to labor camps by their own friends and family, in a constant game of concealing their true feelings and true identities, well, it becomes a magnificent thing to behold in such a place. Please read this book and find out for yourself exactly what I mean by all of this. I don't think you'll regret it.
The Orphan Master s Son A Novel Pulitzer Aug , 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. The Orphan Master s Son by Adam Johnson The Orphan Master s Son veers from cold terror to surrealistic humor with ease, and succeeds as both a t In a stunning feat of imagination, Johnson puts us inside Jun Do yep, John Doe , a North Korean The Orphan Master s Son The Orphan Master s Son Pulitzer Prize Winner by Adam Aug , The Orphan Master kept a photograph of a woman in his small room at Long Tomorrows She was quite lovely eyes large and sideways looking, lips pursed with an unspoken word Since beautiful women in the provinces get shipped to Pyongyang, that s certainly what had happened to his mother The real proof of this was the Orphan Master The Orphan Master s Son Summary and Study Guide The Orphan Master s Son is the story of Jun Do, an everyman caught up in high stakes politics in a fictionalized version of the Democratic People s Republic of Korea As the son of the orphan master The Orphan Master s Son Alison Chino Mar , The Orphan Master s Son by Adam Johnson is a thrilling, stay up until you can not hold your eyes open tale of a young boy who is searching for meaning and just trying to stay alive in the

  1. Adam Johnson was born in South Dakota and raised in Arizona He earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University in 1992 a MFA from the writing program at McNeese State University, in 1996 and a PhD in English from Florida State University in 2000 Johnson is currently a San Francisco writer and associate professor in creative writing at Stanford University He founded the Stanford Graphic Novel Project and was named one of the nation s most influential and imaginative college professors by Playboy Magazine His fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper s, and The Paris Review He is the author of Emporium, a short story collection and the novel, Parasites Like Us, which won the California Book Award His most recent novel, The Orphan Master s Son, won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

994 Reply to “The Orphan Master's Son”

  1. In a stunning feat of imagination, Johnson puts us inside Jun Do yep, John Doe , a North Korean orphan who stumbles from poverty to a job as body double for a Hero of the Eternal Revolution The closed world of North Korea revealed here where businessmen are conscripted to work in the rice fields and the ruthless Kim Jong il is still the Dear Leader goes beyond anything Orwell ever imagined The Orphan Master s Son veers from cold terror to surrealistic humor with ease, and succeeds as both a thri [...]


  2. CITIZENS, gather round the individualistic screens of your capitalistically exploited folding computers and other pocket sized computational devices The Dear Reviewer has much omniscient wisdom and many synoptic truths to impart Set aside your Facebook and Twitter feeds and summon every last ounce of patriotic love for and devotion to the Democratic People s Republic of in order to focus your cluttered Western minds and screen worn eyes for several uninterrupted minutes on this update of paramou [...]


  3. This is not an easy book to read It preys on the minds of readers, on the fears and hopes that stem from our deeply ingrained cultural concepts, our habitual comfortable worldview It takes you to the place where you can no longer be sure what is based in reality and what is the result of an absurdist deeply satirical interpretation of it.This is a book that s set in North Korea, and its protagonist is cleverly perhaps overly so named Jun Do that is, John Doe , the North Korean everyman, I guess [...]


  4. The Orphan Master s Son Has No Clothes I d love to take credit for coming up with that beautifully stated, extremely accurate summing up of this awful, awful book, but I can t I suppose, if nothing else, I can boast having married the man who did I wasn t 30 pages into this farce and I m not speaking of the story stylings when it became quite clear that all the praise being heaped upon this pile of literary poo I am forever mindful that kids may be reading these reviews was the work of a Marketi [...]


  5. Literature is a fiction that tells a greater truth so somebody wise once said But the truth is a tricky business This epic story set in the Democratic People s Republic of Korea that s the bad one offers frequent reminders of that fact First, there s the question of where the genuinely dire straits of North Koreans end and the semi satirical abstractions begin Did Johnson exaggerate the atrocities Did his fiction indeed tell a greater truth Then there s a related question about Jun Do, the book [...]


  6. Read it quick before North Korea decides you can t.If I wasn t glad that Kim Jong Il is dead before reading this book, I certainly am now.Pak Jun Do never knew his mother and is raised in the orphanage his father runs Because of this, he is constantly mistaken for an orphan for the rest of his life Eventually Jun Do winds up as one of the tunnel fighters who work in secret passages under the DMZ into South Korea, but he s recruited to be part of a team that goes out in boats and snatches random [...]


  7. Adam Johnson s The Orphan Master s Son defies categories and captives the reader s attention end to end We are brought face to face with the brutal inhumanity of the Kim Jong Il dictatorship which the author visited and tried to depict as accurately as possible given the lack of defectors and their testimony But the even deeper story was how much suffering and deprivation humans can endure while remaining human.For another interesting take on North Korea, I would highly recommend Guy Delisle s c [...]


  8. I ll preface this review by saying that, in many ways, this is an excellent novel It s intelligent, rich in symbolism and metaphor, and takes place in one of the most interesting contemporary settings an author could choose It has many moments of terrific insight regarding one of the strangest and most tragic places on Earth I can see why it s getting so much attention.All of that aside, this book did not work for me It doesn t read like a book that was so good that they had to award it the Puli [...]



  9. If Mike Reynolds hadn t raved about this book I probably wouldn t have read it Here s his review review show I m glad I read The Orphan Master s Son, however, so thanks, Mike.Why wouldn t I have read this novel without Mike s recommendation Well, I m leery of any book about another culture that hints of an uplifting, inspirational tale about overcoming obstacles or whatever I hate that shit It s not that I hate feeling uplifted but those stories, in my eyes, tend to minimize third world horrors [...]


  10. This is a hideously beautiful, harrowing work of imagination It s hard to tell which atrocities come from the mind of the writer and which are real It illuminates a North Korea that seems all too real, while telling the story of a man whose feats of survival would turn him into a folk hero in any other context This is an excellent book but not easy or light reading ETA I keep thinking about the fact that Jun Do chooses his own identity from the beginning Is he ever told he s the orphan master s [...]


  11. At a certain point I almost put this book down because I thought the only character I cared about was gone But I was immersed and impressed a few pages later when that character was reintroduced under new circumstances This book is a real life 1984, interspersed with facts about North Korea Even though many scenarios were far fetched, this work of fiction was engaging and gave me a newfound interest in North Korea I have already bought another book about the DPRK One of my favorite moments was w [...]


  12. This very long, very dark, and highly imaginative work by Adam Johnson forces upon the reader a series of distasteful sensations, only a few of which are horror, fury, hatred, injustice, and revenge But by the end, one also experiences hope, compassion, sincerity, integrity, and love Thoughts surface, submerge, roil in the mind during the days spent reading this huge novel, leaving one as drained and unsettled after a session with it as if one had eaten bitterness Welcome to North Korea If you v [...]


  13. There are many books I ve loved, many writers I ve admired, some whose talent has been awe inspiring But it s not often that I read a novel wondering how the hell did he she do that This is one of those times How did Adam Johnson imagine his way into the dystopia of Kim Jong Il s North Korea and create a world so real to the reader that when Americans show up, they seem oddly alien The book is darkly comic and desperately sad, always teetering on the brink of complete absurdity but true in its h [...]


  14. I have to be honest, I found this one a bit of a struggle, and I expected from a Pulitzer prize winner Johnson s ambition in setting his novel in the closed and surreal world of North Korea is clear For me this never quite succeeded in being than a series of set pieces based on the snippets of truth that have emerged, acted out by ciphers who never quite become convincing characters This may partially be excused as a reflection of the impossibility of maintaining humanity in such a place The p [...]


  15. I don t understand the accolades this book has been getting I did read it during a week of awful flu, and the slowness of getting into it may have been partly attributable to that It s certainly clever, and Johnson is nothing if not inventive.But I couldn t get past the use of North Korea as a setting, which seemed like a meretricious trick to me There s certainly a lot of superficial North Korean trappings, loudspeakers, prison mines, references to starvation, and the theater of Kim Jong Il, an [...]


  16. This is just flat out brilliant An amazing imaginative leap into an unknowable country, one that feels so granular, so meticulously envisioned, that it blew me away There is both heft and humor here.


  17. The book is undoubtedly written by a master word smith It is a tour de force through a dark plot and story line The author spent several years researching the book, including visiting the Democratic People s Republic of Korea North Korea I find the word democratic extremely out of place and ironic here, as most other people would do, but won t indulge in any comment about it Looking in from the outside with no knowledge of a people and a country, might not be the right place or time to comment o [...]


  18. In my experience, ghosts are made up only of the living, people you know are out there but are forever out of range Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master s SonOne of my favorite novels of the year, and definitely my favorite novel set primarily in North Korea I ve read four others, or five This is one of those contemporary novels like The Son by Meyer or Carey s True History of the Kelly Gang, or Udall s The Lonely Polygamist that delivers almost everything I search for in a book originality, amazing [...]


  19. Don t Give Up, You re Not Beaten YetAfter buying this book, I read 75 pages and gave up, thinking it was too dark and foreign for me to like Some time after the novel won the Pulitzer Price in Fiction for 2013, I decided to start over and nearly gave up again around the same point, but decided to keep reading to page 100 Somewhere around page 85, I was intrigued, and by page 100, I could not put the book down.Now, I cannot laud The Orphan Master s Son highly enough to do it justice Its excellent [...]


  20. Just starting this so far it s absolutely ripping Saw Johnson on a panel, talking about 9 11, Ten Years After, with Steve Erickson and Dana Goodyear and LA Times book critic David Ulin and he held his own with that stellar company, and then some Funny, when I saw him before the panel, I didn t know who he was, thought he was somebody s friend, maybe a bouncer at some kind of rough nightspot or someone who worked with prison youth until he sat down at the table, and started talking Jaw dropping g [...]


  21. This novel was mesmerizing to me, like a nightmare that is so bizarre that, despite its ugliness, you don t want to wake up from for fear of missing how it will end As dark and surreal as North Korea itself, this fascinating, compelling, 5 star read is not for wussies.The dreamlike story centers around a young man who was reared in an orphanage but who prided himself upon the fact that he was not, in fact, without parents His father was in charge of the unit he was the Orphan Master His mother w [...]


  22. It is just possible that I ve found the novel that come next December I ll be listing as my favorite book of the year Go ahead scoff or do the eyeroll if you so choose, but this book has just set the bar for my reading year With this novel, the prose, the characters, the story and the author s imagining of life under totalitarian rule in North Korea all combine to produce the literary equivalent of the perfect storm in my reading universe While getting my thoughts together and perusing the inter [...]


  23. I was obsessed with getting to the end of this book quickly It wasn t because I loved reading it but because I was so sick of feeling like I was entrapped in a demented world This story imposed scenes onto my brain that reappeared in dreams Only great books have this power The author opened my eyes to North Korean culture through a fictional narrative based on factual research Throughout the story a loudspeaker was used to disseminate propaganda throughout Korean homes Kim Jong il, the recent bu [...]


  24. That helpful widget tells me that I ve read 27% I think I ve given Mr Johnson a fair chance so I have no compunction in bailing out of this one I m old enough to be conscious of my own mortality The unread books I already own could probably keep me going until the Grim Reaper passes this way which doesn t prevent me from adding to them, you know, he may not come for a while, I ve certainly not invited him, and nor would I welcome him Nearly 600 pages is a commitment I ll make if I feel it s wort [...]


  25. Adam Johnson writes with authority about the essentially unknown North Korean culture and civilization Kim Jong Il s force fed propaganda controls the people so consummately that their identities are squeezed from their minds and replaced with a state sponsored life and perspective The life of a North Korean is not the pursuit of happiness or self actualization It is solely to survive, like an insect or a rodent To live, you must become a shell, an unquestionably loyal nationalist.What Johnson r [...]


  26. I waited a long time to read this book, I saved it for a rainy day and I was both excited and apprehensive at the same time about how I would feel reading it I loved it, Adam Johnston writes exceptionally well and I can see why he is highly regarded and respected Many have written about the horror s described in this book but it s so strangely compelling and what drew me inside this story was so the subtle humour and absurdity of the scenes he describes and of course, the flawlessly painted cha [...]


  27. Ap s sete anos de investiga o e uma viagem organizada Coreia do Norte o norte americano Adam Johnson n 1967 escreve Vida Roubada , no original The Orphan Master s Son 2012 e recebe o Pr mio Pulitzer 2013 para Fic o.O romance Vida Roubada , com o subt tulo na edi o portuguesa, Uma Saga de Amor, Esperan a e Reden o no Pa s Mais Fechado do Mundo , est dividido em duas partes Primeira Parte A Biografia de Jun Do e Segunda Parte As Confiss es do Comandante Ga Um anos depois.Jun Do um rf o , que tem u [...]


  28. I had misgivings as to even starting this book A burly Caucasian fella, a Stanford professor no less, feels he can set a novel in North Korea, a place where burly Caucasian guys don t exactly have the run of the ranch an author who names his three children Jupiter, James Geronimo and Justice Everlasting The book he names The Orphan Master s Son, which sounded to me like the spit em out fill in the occupation s Daughter And then it s also a bestseller, with over 20,000 GR ratings as I write this, [...]


  29. I realized that in my excitement after reading this novel, I had not stopped and taken the time to add a few words about the experience I rushed to add my five stars to the mix and then stepped back The fact is I didn t know where to start and I did not want to spoil anything I have a feeling that getting immersed into this book without knowing anything of the plot must make it an even dazzling literary experience Its colorful and surreal world should be entered without any preconceptions.After [...]


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