The Ginseng Hunter
The Book Report: A short, poetic novel of the Cultural Revolution era as seen from the viewpoint of a man whose life has been defined by following his family's tradition of gathering ginseng root in the wild. He narrates for us the events of that uneventful life, with a wistful, elegiac tone. The book illuminates a life and a folkway that this half-Korean, half-Chinese man is so deeply enmeshed into that the metaphors he uses in his head to explain the world to himself are all ...more
I’m giving it f ...more
Jeff Talarigo’s haunting 2008 novel The Ginseng Hunter (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday) puts a face on hunger and the human effects of totalitarian rule, oppression and ill-wrought central planning.
Set in the mountains where China, North Korea and Russia meet, it’s peopled by Chinese, Chinese-Koreans—such as the ginseng hunter—and North Koreans who slip or bribe their way across the armed border to barter or escape the regime of their Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il.
The novel effectively places the reader in ...more
The turn of the seasons governs a ginseng hunter’s life. From spring to late autumn, he must gather enough carefully unearthed roots to buy what he cannot grow in order to survive the winter. Each spring, he must begin again.
This year, on the eve of the twenty-first century, the hunter’s life changes. On his monthly visit to the brothel in town, he meets a North Korean woman whose haunted chestnut brown eyes slide away from his with fear and d ...more
I know that right now, this winter as I sit comfortably in my home with the heat turned up to 68 that some people are starving and freezing and being killed. Revolution is in the air. But it seems far away and doesn't affect me. The disparity of the rich and poor is growning even in our country but will it reach the proportions that it has in other countries? Would we l ...more
Recommended to people with an interest in China and North Korea, an interest in refugees and the reaction to their arrival, and an interest in a short quiet novel to pass the time. If you're looking for ethical dilemmas, those fall in here too...but personally I never grew too attached to any of the characters, which made me less int ...more
What a lovely surprise it was, the style was sparse and beautiful, and the story absorbing and sobering.
A ginseng hunter who lives alone on the border of north east china and north korea becomes caught up in the great tragedy that is north korea. As he befriends a north korean prostitute he learns of the situation in her country, and then he finds a child who has swum across the riv ...more
What I was struck by throughout was the overwhelming absurdity of the men who run the countries - the shadow of Mao darkens one side of the river; Great Leader (and his son Dear Leader) stifle the ...more
When I first read the book's title, I was intrigued by the word "hunter". Surely, one would go out to "find" or "dig up" ginger, but not to hunt it like an animal? The author, however, soon convinced me otherwise. The descriptions of the protagonist taking his time discovering a ginseng plant are not ludicrous at all. I would never have thought that it takes so much care and attention to remove the roots from the ground. It takes patience and per ...more
along the Tumen river, which separates Northeast China and North
Korea, The Ginseng Hunter is an unforgettable portrait of life along a
fragile border." It is about a guy who lives a very solitary life on a
farm along the Chinese side of this border, he hunts for ginseng for a
living, occasionally going to town to sell it and to visit a brothel.
He becomes involved with a North Korean prostitute as things heat up
between North Korea ...more
Eine Vielzahl an Konflikten wird berührt, niemals konkretisiert. Der tiefe Krater zwischen zwei Volksgruppen, die nur durch einen Fluss getrennt voneinander leben; ein Herrscher gegen sein Volk, eine abgeschiedene Bevölkerung als Opfer von Manipulation, der Gehorsam eines Soldaten und nicht zuletzt ein innerer...more
Talarigo writes in segments - often less than three pages at a time - and leaves nearly all of the characters nameless. While I didn't connect deeply to them, I found their stories gentle and touching.
...a quick read.
It was a good read, but could have been far better. The lead character was cold and distant. While he had some feeling for the plight of the Korean mother and child, he didn't act on this in any significant way. It was more the telling of the sad plight of the North Korean people.