The Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling novel of North Korea: an epic journey into the heart of the world's most mysterious dictatorship.
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang...Read More
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the North Korean state soon recognize the boy's loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself "a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world," Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his 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.
Adam Johnson is the author of Fortune Smiles, winner of the National Book Award and the Story Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Orphan Master's Son, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the California Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Johnson's other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship; he was also a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His previous books are Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.
"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