HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Loading...

Orphan Master's Son (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Adam Johnson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,313None5,914 (4.05)207
Member:eo206
Title:Orphan Master's Son
Authors:Adam Johnson
Info:Doubleday Books (2012), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction, suspense, multiple narrators, library, North Korea, prison

Work details

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (2012)

  1. 50
    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (kqueue)
    kqueue: A non-fiction account of people in North Korea. The hardships they endure at the hands of their government are jaw-dropping. It backs up everything in The Orphan Master's Son.
  2. 10
    The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters by B. R. Myers (bibliothequaire)
  3. 10
    Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (Henrik_Madsen)
    Henrik_Madsen: Guy Delisle has based his graphic novel on his own experiences from North Korea - it is definitely also worth a read.
  4. 00
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (aethercowboy)
  5. 00
    Sons of Heaven by Terrence Cheng (booklove2)
    booklove2: Main characters have similar personalities, also they both battle regimes.
  6. 01
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (clfisha)
    clfisha: OK not really alike except in tone. A rollicking good adventure and playful narrative structure (Mitchell is more experimental).
  7. 13
    The Cider House Rules by John Irving (suniru)
    suniru: Although the settings are wildly different,the central figure in both books is the "head boy" in an orphanage.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 207 mentions

English (151)  Dutch (2)  Danish (2)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
Man, this novel was a process! So many library holds and many months later, I finally finished The Orphan Master's Son. I would compare reading TOMS to eating a chewy piece of meat. Sure, it's difficult but, in my opinion, it's worth it.

The Orphan Master's Son, in a nutshell, is about Pak Jun Do, the only non orphan in an orphanage where his father rules. It goes through his life from when he became a cave dweller of sorts, then a kidnapper, then a "hero," to a prisoner, then taking over the "identity" of a Commander, to a prisoner again, and then finally living in infamy.

Adam Johnson did such a great job detailing the world of North Korea. Every time I read, I was utterly immersed in that world, "the most democratic nation in the world." I was living for the propaganda announcements. They were so fascinating on how the truth was spin to tell their version of events.

I do admit TOMS got weird when Pak Jun Do took over Commander Gah's identity and that everyone, including the Dear Leader, went along with it! That's just the way life works over there. If the powers that be tell you you're going to be somebody or do something, then it's done. Identity is such a fluid concept. It isn't yours. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Man, this novel was a process! So many library holds and many months later, I finally finished The Orphan Master's Son. I would compare reading TOMS to eating a chewy piece of meat. Sure, it's difficult but, in my opinion, it's worth it.

The Orphan Master's Son, in a nutshell, is about Pak Jun Do, the only non orphan in an orphanage where his father rules. It goes through his life from when he became a cave dweller of sorts, then a kidnapper, then a "hero," to a prisoner, then taking over the "identity" of a Commander, to a prisoner again, and then finally living in infamy.

Adam Johnson did such a great job detailing the world of North Korea. Every time I read, I was utterly immersed in that world, "the most democratic nation in the world." I was living for the propaganda announcements. They were so fascinating on how the truth was spin to tell their version of events.

I do admit TOMS got weird when Pak Jun Do took over Commander Gah's identity and that everyone, including the Dear Leader, went along with it! That's just the way life works over there. If the powers that be tell you you're going to be somebody or do something, then it's done. Identity is such a fluid concept. It isn't yours. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Man, this novel was a process! So many library holds and many months later, I finally finished The Orphan Master's Son. I would compare reading TOMS to eating a chewy piece of meat. Sure, it's difficult but, in my opinion, it's worth it.

The Orphan Master's Son, in a nutshell, is about Pak Jun Do, the only non orphan in an orphanage where his father rules. It goes through his life from when he became a cave dweller of sorts, then a kidnapper, then a "hero," to a prisoner, then taking over the "identity" of a Commander, to a prisoner again, and then finally living in infamy.

Adam Johnson did such a great job detailing the world of North Korea. Every time I read, I was utterly immersed in that world, "the most democratic nation in the world." I was living for the propaganda announcements. They were so fascinating on how the truth was spin to tell their version of events.

I do admit TOMS got weird when Pak Jun Do took over Commander Gah's identity and that everyone, including the Dear Leader, went along with it! That's just the way life works over there. If the powers that be tell you you're going to be somebody or do something, then it's done. Identity is such a fluid concept. It isn't yours. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Try to inhabit the no-man’s-land of North Korea in Adam Johnson’s "The Orphan Master’s Son" without feeling an eerie gray mood take you over. Use it as an aid to perspective, when you consider the modern ills in your own home country. For Mr. Johnson has distilled the pain and degradation inflicted on North Koreans into his protagonist, an orphan who is not an orphan.

And any consideration of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book must start and end with the main character – a man who cannot even claim his own name. Mr. Johnson shows that orphans must take their names from one of the “heroes of the revolution.” As a young boy our protagonist receives the name of a state hero who committed suicide rather than let any wartime suspicion fall on him. Even though he really does have a father, he is treated as an orphan – despised and mistreated, and given all the worst, most dangerous jobs. He thus captures the whole of North Korean society.

The events of this novel illuminate the perverse and paranoid customs, particularly the caprices of the so-called criminal justice system, of this isolated country. The first two thirds feel episodic, until fate draws our hero into the life of a celebrity actress, a favorite of the dictator’s, and the story gains some clarity and momentum. The man comes to love her, and works assiduously for her safety and security. Doing that comes at tremendous cost, as the hero knows full well. Anyone wanting to escape North Korea must leave no family or friends or associates or acquaintances behind for the state to punish, and this complicates things for everyone.

The author further complicates things by telling the last part of his story in a fluid chronology – we bounce back and forth between two periods, one after the hero is arrested the final time and one before. This strategy creates a tension in the reader – it makes her anxious to learn the fates of the main characters, and Mr. Johnson conditions us not to expect the best.

While this book has much to recommend it, it was a tough slog for me, because of the subject matter and setting. It’s a deserving Pulitzer winner, for two features: Mr. Johnson’s daring and unorthodox handling of his plot, and for his creation of a splendid, memorable hero, in whom he instills a suffering country’s best characteristics and best hopes.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-orphan-masters-son-by-adam-johnso... ( )
  LukeS | Apr 2, 2014 |
This is one of my favorite books. It follows Jun Do, an orphan who becomes an employee of the state. He is an interrogator, puppet and prisoner. The book is written from different points of view. It is a great one if you enjoy a glimpse into the mystery of North Korea. ( )
  saradiann | Mar 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
"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. "
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Susanne Wells (Nov 1, 2011)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Johnson, Adamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Powers, RichardAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
FOR STEPHANIE -
my sun,
my moon,
my star and,
satellite
First words
Citizens, gather 'round your loudspeakers, for we bring important updates!
Quotations
The darkness inside your head is something your imagination fills with stories that have nothing to do with the real darkness around you.
Compared to forgetting, did living really stand a chance?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
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. 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.

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.
Haiku summary
Disturbing account
Of North Korea under
Kim Jong-Il. Tough stuff.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812992792, Hardcover)

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2012

Adam Johnson on The Orphan Master's Son

When I arrived at Pyongyang's Sunan Airport a few years ago, my head was still spinning from a landing on a runway lined with cattle, electric fences and the fuselages of other jets whose landings hadn't gone so well. Even though I'd spent three years writing and researching The Orphan Master's Son, I was unprepared for what I was about to encounter in “the most glorious nation in the world.”

I'd started writing about North Korea because of a fascination with propaganda and the way it prescribes an official narrative to an entire people. In Pyongyang, that narrative begins with the founding of a glorious nation under the fatherly guidance of Kim Il Sung, is followed by years of industry and sacrifice among its citizenry, so that when Kim Jong Il comes to power, all is strength, happiness and prosperity. It didn't matter that the story was a complete fiction--every citizen was forced to become a character whose motivations, desires and fears were dictated by this script. The labor camps were filled with those who hadn't played their parts, who'd spoken of deprivation instead of plenitude and the purest democracy.

When I visited places like Pyongyang, Kaesong City, Panmunjom and Myohyangsan, I understood that a genuine interaction with a North Korean citizen was unlikely, since contact with foreigners was illegal. As I walked the streets, not one person would risk a glance, a smile, even a pause in their daily routine. In the Puhung Metro Station, I wondered what happened to personal desires when they came into conflict with a national story. Was it possible to retain a personal identity in such conditions, and under what circumstances would a person reveal his or her true nature? These mysteries--of subsumed selves, of hidden lives, of rewritten longings--are the fuel of novels, and I felt a powerful desire to help reveal what a dynastic dictatorship had forced these people to conceal.

Of course, I could only speculate on those lives, filling the voids with research and imagination. Back home, I continued to read books and seek out personal accounts. Testimonies of gulag survivors like Kang Chol Hwan proved invaluable. But I found that most scholarship on the DPRK was dedicated to military, political and economic theory. Fewer were the books that focused directly on the people who daily endured such circumstances. Rarer were the narratives that tallied the personal cost of hidden emotions, abandoned relationships, forgotten identities. These stories I felt a personal duty to tell. Traveling to North Korea filled me with a sense that every person there, from the lowliest laborer to military leaders, had to surrender a rich private life in order to enact one pre-written by the Party. To capture this on the page, I created characters across all levels of society, from the orphan soldier to the Party leaders. And since Kim Jong Il had written the script for all of North Korea, my novel didn't make sense without writing his role as well.

Featured Photographs

Anti-tank devices seen while traveling south from Pyongyang toward Panmunj
  DPRK soldier
  Air raid sirens
  Revelutionary Martyr's Cemetery on Mount Taesong

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:18 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Son of an influential father, Pak Jun Do rises through the ranks in North Korea to a life of espionage, kidnapping, and torture, and eventually falls for the dictator's favorite actress.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
3 avail.
408 wanted
3 pay4 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.05)
0.5 4
1 8
1.5
2 19
2.5 9
3 43
3.5 29
4 146
4.5 56
5 140

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,429,534 books! | Top bar: Always visible