The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

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9780812982626: The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION

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.

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST · DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE WINNER · LONGLISTED FOR THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION’S ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL · WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION · NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

The New Yorker · The Washington Post · Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly · The Wall Street Journal · Los Angeles Times · San Francisco Chronicle · Financial Times · Newsweek/The Daily Beast · The Plain Dealer · St. Louis Post-Dispatch · Milwaukee Journal Sentinel · Scott Turow, The Millions · Slate · Salon · BookPage · Shelf Awareness
 
“The single best work of fiction published [this year] . . . The book’s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word.”—The Wall Street Journal

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.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean 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. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.

Praise for The Orphan Masters Son

“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

“Mr. Johnson has written a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“Rich with a sense of discovery . . . The Orphan Master’s Son has an early lead on novel of [the year].”—The Daily Beast
 
“This is a novel worth getting excited about.”The Washington Post
 
“[A] ripping piece of fiction that is also an astute commentary on the nature of freedom, sacrifice, and glory.”Elle


From the Hardcover edition.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2012: It is only January, but Adam Johnson’s astonishing novel is destined to cast a long shadow over the year in books. Jun Do is The Orphan Master’s Son, a North Korean citizen with a rough past who is working as a government-sanctioned kidnapper when we first meet him. He is hardly a sympathetic character, but sympathy is not author Johnson’s aim. In a totalitarian nation of random violence and bewildering caprice—a poor, gray place that nonetheless refers to itself as “the most glorious nation on earth”—an unnatural tension exists between a citizen’s national identity and his private life. Through Jun Do’s story we realize that beneath the weight of oppression and lies beats a heart not much different from our own—one that thirsts for love, acceptance, and hope—and that realization is at the heart of this shockingly believable, immersive, and thrilling novel. --Chris Schluep



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

About the Author:

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories. His other works include Emporium, a short-story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. He lives in San Francisco.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 203 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 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. NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST - DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE WINNER - LONGLISTED FOR THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION S ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL - WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker - The Washington Post - Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly - The Wall Street Journal - Los Angeles Times - San Francisco Chronicle - Financial Times - Newsweek/The Daily Beast - The Plain Dealer - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Scott Turow, The Millions - Slate - Salon - BookPage - Shelf Awareness The single best work of fiction published [this year] . . . The book s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word. --The Wall Street Journal 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. Considering himself a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world, Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean 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. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today s greatest writers. Praise for The Orphan Master s Son 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 Mr. Johnson has written a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Rich with a sense of discovery . . . The Orphan Master s Son has an early lead on novel of [the year]. --The Daily Beast This is a novel worth getting excited about. --The Washington Post [A] ripping piece of fiction that is also an astute commentary on the nature of freedom, sacrifice, and glory. --Elle From the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780812982626

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 203 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 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. NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST - DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE WINNER - LONGLISTED FOR THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION S ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL - WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker - The Washington Post - Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly - The Wall Street Journal - Los Angeles Times - San Francisco Chronicle - Financial Times - Newsweek/The Daily Beast - The Plain Dealer - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Scott Turow, The Millions - Slate - Salon - BookPage - Shelf Awareness The single best work of fiction published [this year] . . . The book s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word. --The Wall Street Journal 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. Considering himself a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world, Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean 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. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today s greatest writers. Praise for The Orphan Master s Son 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 Mr. Johnson has written a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Rich with a sense of discovery . . . The Orphan Master s Son has an early lead on novel of [the year]. --The Daily Beast This is a novel worth getting excited about. --The Washington Post [A] ripping piece of fiction that is also an astute commentary on the nature of freedom, sacrifice, and glory. --Elle From the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780812982626

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEIn this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE WINNER • LONGLISTED FOR THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION’S ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL •WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYThe New Yorker • The Washington Post • Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Financial Times • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • The Plain Dealer • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • Scott Turow, The Millions • Slate • Salon • BookPage •Shelf Awareness"The single best work of fiction published [this year] . . . The book’s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word."—The Wall Street JournalPak 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 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 Korean 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."Praise for The Orphan Master’s Son"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"A daring and remarkable novel."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times"Gripping . . . Deftly blending adventure, surreal comedy and Casablanca-style romance, the novel takes readers on a jolting ride through an Orwellian landscape of dubious identity and dangerous doublespeak."—San Jose Mercury News"This is a novel worth getting excited about. . . . 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."—The Washington Post"[A] brilliant and timely novel."—The Wall Street Journal"Remarkable and heartbreaking . . . To [the] very short list of exceptional novels that also serve a humanitarian purposeThe Orphan Master’s Son must now be added."—The New Republic"A triumph of imagination . . . [Grade:] A."—Entertainment Weekly"A spellbinding saga of subverted identity and an irrepressible love."—VogueLook for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more. Bookseller Inventory # BAA-B-3301255

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