Friday, February 3, 2017

The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson,

The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson, deserves all the accolades it has received (including a Pulitzer).  He has written a monumental book, both familiar and strange, dense and fluid… the kind of novel novelists should strive to write.  Despite the title, the overused formula of "The ____’s Son or Daughter," the book delivers the goods. 

The novel takes place in North Korea, with excursions in Japan and Texas.  The main character, Pak Jun Do, is a kind of clever and driven Forrest Gump.  He keeps getting into tight squeezes (most deadly) but gets out of them from the force of sheer luck.  He sheds jobs and identities like shirts.  

Ultimately, in the dystopic world of North Korea, you are what the Dear Leader wants you to be, and this will spell doom for Park; yet in the end, it is Park's selfless act of love that makes him a uniquely free person, despite his fate.

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