The Orphan Master's Son
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 orphans.
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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, ...more
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 o ...more
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 rando ...more
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 ...more
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 mas ...more
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 I ...more
The book is darkly comic and desperately sad, always teetering on the brink of complete absurdity but true in ...more
After 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 excell ...more
While getting my thoughts together and perusing the ...more
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 more so the subtle humour and absurdity of the scenes he describes and of course, the flawlessly paint ...more
― Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master's Son
One 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, ...more
What Johns ...more
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 rec ...more
Após sete anos de investigação e uma viagem “organizada” à Coreia do Norte o norte-americano Adam Johnson (n. 1967) escreve “Vida Roubada”, no original “The Orphan Masters Son” (2012) e recebe o Prémio Pulitzer 2013 para Ficção.
O romance “Vida Roubada”, com o subtítulo na edição portuguesa, “Uma Saga de Amor, Esperança e Redenção no País Mais Fechado do Mundo”, está dividido em duas partes: Primeira Parte – A Biografia de Jun Do e Segunda Parte – As Confissões do Comandante Ga (Um anos depois).
Do you enjoy political satire? Then this book will be right up your alley. But I don’t.
Do you enjoy a puzzle? Would it be intriguing to you to figure out what is fantasy and what is real? Again, if you answer in the affirmative, you will most probably enjoy this book. Me, I like to have a firm handle on the events. I want to understand what is definitely happening. You see in North Korea what Kim Jong Il sai ...more
The Orphan Master's Son is about the dystopian world of North Korea today. One might think you'd have to know a bit ...more
For another interesting take on North Korea, I would highly recommend Guy Delisle ...more
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 more dazzling literary experience. Its colorful and surreal world should be entered without any preconceptio ...more
This book was a strange experience. I started out listening to it on audio and found myself completely unable to follow it. The character's in an orphan home. The character's a kidnapper. Wait a minute -- the character's on a ship -- how did he get there? And the rowers -- where do they come into this? Suddenly there are shoes, and Americans boarding the ship, and some kind of problem... ...more
It’s hard to imagine that this book is entirely fiction. It is as fragmented and terrorizing as real life can be at times. North Korean Loudspeakers blare out the Communist “party line”, while different points of view come shooting in from multiple directions. The narrative is sometimes stultifying. I didn't read it all at one sitting and had to re-read to follow the multifaceted journey that is Jun Do’s (aka John Doe) life.
The average American who hasn't experienced cultures outside th ...more
"In Mexico, there are these fish that have colonized the freshwater caves along Sierra del Abra. They were lost. They found themselves living in complete darkness. But they didn’t die. Instead, they thrived. They adapted. They lost their pigmentation, their sight, eventually even their eyes. With survival, they became hideous. I’ve rarely thought about what I once was. But I wonder if a ray of light were to make it into the cave, would I be able to see it? Or feel it? Would I gravitate to its w...more
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He founded the Stanford Graphi ...more