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The Orphan Master's Son

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The Orphan Master's Son

A Novel
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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,...
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,...
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    2
  • Library copies:
    2
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.7
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Reading Level:
    4


 
Description-
  • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

    In 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 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 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 purpose The 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."--Vogue

    Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.



    From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    JUN DO'S mother was a singer. That was all Jun Do's father, the Orphan Master, would say about her. The Orphan Master kept a photograph of a woman in his small room at Long Tomorrows. She was quite lovely-eyes large and sideways looking, lips pursed with an unspoken word. Since beautiful women in the provinces get shipped to Pyongyang, that's certainly what had happened to his mother. The real proof of this was the Orphan Master himself. At night, he'd drink, and from the barracks, the orphans would hear him weeping and lamenting, striking half-heard bargains with the woman in the photograph. Only Jun Do was allowed to comfort him, to finally take the bottle from his hands.As the oldest boy at Long Tomorrows, Jun Do had responsibilities- portioning the food, assigning bunks, renaming the new boys from the list of the 114 Grand Martyrs of the Revolution. Even so, the Orphan Master was serious about showing no favoritism to his son, the only boy at Long Tomorrows who wasn't an orphan. When the rabbit warren was dirty, it was Jun Do who spent the night locked in it. When boys wet their bunks, it was Jun Do who chipped the frozen piss off the floor. Jun Do didn't brag to the other boys that he was the son of the Orphan Master, rather than some kid dropped off by parents on their way to a 9-27 camp. If someone wanted to figure it out, it was pretty obvious- Jun Do had been there before all of them, and the reason he'd never been adopted was because his father would never let someone take his only son. And it made sense that after his mother was stolen to Pyongyang, his father had applied for the one position that would allow him to both earn a living and watch over his son.

    The surest evidence that the woman in the photo was Jun Do's mother was the unrelenting way the Orphan Master singled him out for punishment. It could only mean that in Jun Do's face, the Orphan Master saw the woman in the picture, a daily reminder of the eternal hurt he felt from losing her. Only a father in that kind of pain could take a boy's shoes in winter. Only a true father, flesh and bone, could burn a son with the smoking end of a coal shovel.

    Occasionally, a factory would adopt a group of kids, and in the spring, men with Chinese accents would come to make their picks. Other than that, anyone who could feed the boys and provide a bottle for the Orphan Master could have them for the day. In summer they filled sandbags and in winter they used metal bars to break sheets of ice from the docks. On the machining floors, for bowls of cold chap chai, they would shovel the coils of oily metal that sprayed from the industrial lathes. The railyard fed them best, though, spicy yukejang. One time, shoveling out boxcars, they swept up a powder that looked like salt. It wasn't until they started sweating that they turned red, their hands and faces, their teeth. The train had been filled with chemicals for the paint factory. For weeks, they were red.

    And then in the year Juche 85, the floods came. Three weeks of rain, yet the loudspeakers said nothing of terraces collapsing, earth dams giving, villages cascading into one another. The Army was busy trying to save the Sungli 58 factory from the rising water, so the Long Tomorrows boys were given ropes and long-handled gaffs to try to snare people from the Chongjin River before they were washed into the harbor. The water was a roil of timber, petroleum tanks, and latrine barrels. A tractor tire turned in the water, a Soviet refrigerator. They heard the deep booms of boxcars tumbling along the river bottom. The canopy of a troop carrier spun past, a screaming family clinging to it. Then a young woman rose from the water, mouth wide but silent, and...

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.

Title Information+
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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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