Uh oh. This gal had better get reading! Flavorwire recently put out a list of the best books of the year, so far. I’ve only read ONE of them. One!
I do have a few of them on request from my local library, whew. (Thank you ever so much to The Weiss Community Library!) The rest of the books are now filed in my READ IT SOON file!
The one book that I have already read from the list? The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.
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.
Have you read it? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
3 thoughts on “Best Books of the Year…So Far”
Hi Jennifer – While I have not read this I recently heard an interview with Adam Johnson. This book looks fascinating but a little disturbing. North Korea is truly an amazing and horrendous place. I think that it may come closer to the society depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen – Eighty – Four then any other.
I don't think I'd ever read another novel set in North Korea. Anyone who pays any attention to the news has a vague understanding that it's a much different place than the US (or anywhere else for that matter!) If you read this you'll have to let me know what you think. It *was* disturbing, and eye opening and fascinating as well. I might have to search out an interview with the author, I'd really like to hear what he has to say.
I loved this book! I can't quite put my finger on what exactly because I do think it has a few flaws but those, too, are vague. I just know that I laughed and cried through the whole thing.