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In-Depth Review and Analysis of the 2013 Pulitzer Winner for Fiction

Posted on Apr 16, 2013

Cherilyn Parsons, in her Truthdig review of “The Orphan Master’s Son,” wrote that the book, which just won the Pulitzer Prize, is “a rich, careening, dystopian tale that stretches the form of a novel to give us a visceral hit of life inside North Korea.”

Here is a brief excerpt from the beginning of Parsons’ review, the rest of which can be read here:

I wonder if Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s new, poker-faced leader, will read this novel. If he does, he may be baffled unless his Switzerland schooling gave him a real understanding of Kafka, Nabokov, Pynchon, Swift and Borges. “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson—an American—is a rich, careening, dystopian tale that stretches the form of a novel to give us a visceral hit of life inside North Korea.

So Kim Jong Un, this review’s for you. This audacious and (to despots like you) dangerous novel set in your country is definitely the Greatest North Korean Story of All Time, no matter what you might decree.

“The Orphan Master’s Son” is about a lot of things—freedom and captivity, love and loss, truth and lies—but at its deepest level it’s about identity and story. It’s about who holds the power to say, “This is who I am.”

Also, here’s a PBS interview with the author of the book, Adam Johnson:

Watch Author Adam Johnson Envisions a Life Inside North Korea on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.


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