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The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel…

The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Adam Johnson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,2782492,964 (4.05)1 / 404
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.
Title:The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Authors:Adam Johnson
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2012), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2013 challenge

Work details

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

  1. 100
    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 Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi (alanteder)
  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. 10
    The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters by B. R. Myers (bibliothequaire)
  5. 10
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (aethercowboy)
  6. 00
    Decoded by Mai Jia (Limelite)
    Limelite: Complex tales and artistic novels about individuals trapped in a tyrannical state and forced at the whim of totalitarian government to do work they are morally, emotionally and spiritually opposed to.
  7. 00
    Sons of Heaven by Terrence Cheng (booklove2)
    booklove2: Main characters have similar personalities, also they both battle regimes.
  8. 00
    A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power by Paul Fischer (Meredy)
    Meredy: When I read The Orphan Master's Son, I sensed that it was telling the truth in a way that only fiction can. This view of the DPRK regime seems to corroborate Johnson's surrealistic narrative to a degree of literalness that I did not anticipate.
  9. 02
    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).
  10. 15
    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. Also, "identity" is central to both books.

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» See also 404 mentions

English (240)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (250)
Showing 1-5 of 240 (next | show all)
Lidt tung i starten, men når først den får kløerne i, slipper den ikke. Stærkt plot og gode karakterer. Et fremragende og aldeles skræmmende indblik i Nordkorea. ( )
  heineaaen | Apr 4, 2021 |
A story set in North Korea, where it is not the person that matters but the story that he is given by Kim Jong Il. Pak Jun Do, the Orphan Master’s Son, becomes a tunnel soldier, kidnapper for Kim Jong Il, and spy aboard a fishing vessel, before taking over someone else’s story and becoming a rival to the dear leader himself. The contrast between the loudspeaker announcements and the story as experienced by the characters brings the paradox of North Korea to life in an interesting way. While It took a little while for the story to find its direction, I was engrossed in Jun Do’s story by the end. ( )
  SteveKey | Jan 8, 2021 |
This is a dark look at life in North Korea and is written in an unusual style. I'm glad I read it, but it is not an easy book to read especially the second part. It definitely keeps your interest. ( )
  3CatMom | Dec 28, 2020 |
A Remarkable Masterpiece
Likability: ★★★★★
Depth: ★★★★★

At first, I thought, "North Korea. That sounds like a fun read." I was wrong. This book takes you on a wild ride of fortune, hope, determination, and force of will that will delight you.

On a literary note, I'm usually a sucker for small bits of emotional description or prose that bring to life a story. Adam Johnson does not give these away so easily. But builds them page after page in a way that brings meaning and insight.

You should read this book for a glimpse of North Korea. For insight into the human soul, and to enjoy the work of a master storyteller. 15 seems about the right age.

Note: I don't give 5 stars easily. For me, a 5-star novel needs to not let go of you after the last page is turned. ( )
1 vote davehamptonusa | Nov 19, 2020 |
The Orphan Master's Son Pulitzer prized winner was published in 2012 novel by an American author that is set in North Korea and deals with themes of propaganda, identity, and state power. The novel was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The protagonist is Jun Do's who was raised in a state orphanage and his service to the state, including as a kidnapper of Japanese citizens, signal operator stationed on a fishing boat. Due to a 'heroic act' he displayed on the boat, he becomes part of a diplomatic delegation and travels over to America. However, as the trip to America was an unsuccessful mission, Jun Do and his team are sent to a prison mine upon returning to North Korea. There really is a lot of various stories within the story. We have the story of the American rower and we have Sun Moon, a North Korean actress. There are three narrators in the book: a third-person account; the propaganda version of Commander Ga and Sun Moon's story, which is projected across the country by loudspeakers; and a first-person account by an interrogator seeking to write a Biography of Commander Ga. I enjoyed reading this story though enjoy might not be the right word. There are moments of humor but there is also dark episodes of torture. I think the book was deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. ( )
  Kristelh | Oct 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 240 (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

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my sun,
my moon,
my star and,
First words
Citizens, gather 'round your loudspeakers, for we bring important updates!
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
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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.

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