Chapter 73: “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson (2013)

“But people do things to survive, and then after they survive, they can’t live with what they’ve done.”

OMS_COVERCITIZENS – gather around the individualistic screens of your capitalistic-inspired computers and take heed to my words. I have just completed the democracy-loving pig dog, Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, which was awarded by the United States propaganda-machine Pulitzer Prize committee for its exploitation of our Dear Leader and his Glorious North Korea! Please empty your brains, which are no doubt polluted by the vanity and clutter of the Western World, and take in this review, which is of the utmost importance to your day-to-day existence!

[END OF TRANSMISSION]

What Adam Johnson has crafted here is nothing short of a literary marvel. While the writing itself may not have been the most breathtaking stuff I’ve ever read and while it may not have given me chills with its beauty, the story is utterly gripping and had me turning the pages rapidly and it pulls back the veil just a little bit on his subject matter – the highly secretive and mysterious North Korea in the days of Kim Jong Il (not that the country is any more transparent under the rule of Kim Jong Un).

What’s most impressive about his writing, though, is the incredible amount of research that Johnson must have put into it. It’s so exploitative, so (presumably) revealing, so honest that it seems like Johnson, surely, must have been given unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Jong regime! It seems that real. And if the novel isn’t that real, I’m sure it’s not that far off – he writes with that much authority and confidence.

In the 2000’s, North Korea has become the world’s most bizarre and unpredictable country – you never know what’s real, what’s actually happening, if they’re going to declare nuclear war on the rest of the world… So this novel’s timeliness is, I’m sure, that’s the biggest reason Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize, but that in no way should discount its greatness – because it really is a great novel.

The other thing that makes this novel such a landmark work is that it’s only the second “noire”/pulp fiction novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Looking back over the last nearly 100 years since the Pulitzer Prize started being awarded to works of fiction, only Upton Sincair’s Dragon’s Teeth was a detective/adventure/crime work.

I can’t recommend it highly enough. The Orphan Master’s Son is one of my favorite books to win a Pulitzer.

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