Monday, April 29, 2013

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son
This extraordinary book gives the reader a glimpse into life in a very isolated country - North Korea. We follow the life of Pak Jun Do as he supervises orphans, learns how to fight in dark and cramped tunnels, works on a boat that kidnaps Japanese people off their beaches, and is subsequently taught English. He is then put on a fishing boat to monitor and transcribe radio transmissions. An unfortunate event on that boat caused him to be put into a mine prison where he kills and takes the identity of Commander Ga, the minister of prison mines and husband to the national actress, Sun Moon. To fit in with the fishermen who had tattoos of their wives on their chests, he put a tattoo of the actress on his chest, not imagining that he would ever meet her.

All through the book we see examples of life in a totalitarian country. Every home has a loud speaker wired in that broadcasts propaganda at any time of the day and night. Children grow up with only the stories they hear from this source. Everyone is in constant fear of being reported for the slightest infraction. Old people without family to take care of them, are killed by having their blood drained. And the prisons! The prisons!

This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Deservedly so.

My rating for this book: 

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