The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son  (link goes to Amazon) by Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction .

“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

“All of these elements—stylistic panache, technical daring, moral weight and an uncanny sense of the current moment—combine in Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, the single best work of fiction published in 2012. . . . The book's cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word.” —The Wall Street Journal

“The Orphan Master’s Son performs an unusual form of sorcery, taking a frankly cruel and absurd reality and somehow converting it into a humane and believable fiction. It’s an epic feat of story-telling. It’s thrillingly written, and it's just thrilling period.” —Zadie Smith, Los Angeles Times.


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  • Crystal O.

    Though I said the novel was like great sex with someone you never want to see again, I am always super happy to see all of you!

    2 · March 31

  • Martha S.

    This is exactly why I love being in a book discussion group. #1 - Reading a book I wouldn't have chosen for myself, and #2 - Hearing so many different opinions and readings of said book. Thanks all, for a wonderful discussion.

    1 · March 30

  • Joan P.

    Thank you, everyone. I think we all came away with a better understanding of the book and plenty of new insights. I love the way we can share divergent points of view in a spirit of learning and camaraderie.

    2 · March 30

  • Diane

    I came away with a much richer perspective on the book after listening to everyone's responses and insights. Thank you. Always a wonderful discussion with this book group.

    1 · March 30

  • Joan P.

    This was one of the all-time best discussions! We could have gone on for another two hours easily! Thank you, everyone, for being my dream book club.

    1 · March 30

  • Dale M.

    This book generated tremendous discussion. We should have brought our sleeping bags!

    2 · March 30

  • Janet L.

    What a great discussion! Loved it. Thanks to everyone. And a special thank to Leslie and Joan.

    1 · March 30

  • Nancy R.

    This was such an interesting and involving discussion. I have a much better appreciation of the book. Thanks to all of you!

    2 · March 30

  • Patti C.

    What lively discussion - and with vastly varied opinions!!!

    1 · March 30

  • Leslie M.

    Best discussion I have experienced at Novel Lovers of Sonoma County

    2 · March 30

  • Janine A.

    Daaaannnggg I need to create a time machine, go back a week, read this book and zoom, join you all on Sunday. >_<

    1 · March 29

  • Marilyn

    I won't be able to make it Sunday, but I would appreciate knowing what the next book choice will be so that I'll read it and be ready! Thanks.

    March 29

  • Joan P.

    I sent out the address Friday, 3/18 at 9 pm. If you RSVP after that, please contact me at [masked] for the address.

    March 28

    • Joan P.

      Ooops, I meant *3/28*, sorry.

      March 28

  • phil g.

    The downhill side is easier. As long as we're on Planet DPRK, the People's Wonderland, I can coast along, weaving back and forth through time. In science fiction it's always fun to see how the extraterrestrials view the earthlings.

    March 27

  • Martha S.

    It was around the halfway mark that things started to turn for me - when the seemingly disconnected threads begin to knit together. I'll be interested to hear whether this happens for others, as well.

    2 · March 26

    • Joan P.

      This happened for me, too. This book takes intellectual investment, doesn't it?

      1 · March 26

  • Patti C.

    I'm on my second reading as I read the book some time ago. I really liked it the first time and am finding it feels more "connected" this time - at least so far. The intro made much more sense to me the second time - made mention of many people and issues that later are fleshed out.

    2 · March 26

  • phil g.

    I'm halfway through. I don't like to second guess the Pulitzer Committee, but it's been difficult to suspend my disbelief. The description of John Doe's time on the fishing trawler lit up every page with errors. I know I shouldn't be too literal, and my wise sister always says my best strategy is to cultivate an air of taciturn mystery, but the episode struck my as silly and poorly made (the "hiss of the abyss..."). It's better when we're in North Korea, because the author can say anything about that blank spot on the map. This is a good time to read what little there is, although as someone says, a lot comes from defectors, whose testimony isn't always reliable.

    March 26

    • Amy G.

      Phil, I'm having trouble getting through this book. Your issues with the parts later on are not encouraging!

      March 26

  • Maryann T.

    I just found out I'm having company on March 30 and can't come to our meeting. I hope to see you at our April meeting. Take care.
    Maryann

    March 23

  • Joan P.

    Please check that your RSVP is still accurate. 18 people are coming as of 3/22! I'll send out the address in Petaluma a few days before our meeting.

    March 22

  • Joan P.

    One of our members reports: "I will share with you the comments of the librarian at Sebastopol Library today. I went in to get Orphan Master's Son and she pointed out that the library has a list of books. If any book club picks a book out of that list, the library will send for a bunch of copies for members to pick up at their local branch." That's good news!

    1 · March 9

  • Leslie M.

    I am about 1/3 of the way through this book! The violence is not too much for me and I am very sensitive. Keep reading as it will be worth the journey!

    March 5

  • Ellen S.

    I agree with Joan. I am now starting to research more on North Korea. I just got the book "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick. She is a journalist who interviews those who have defected, apparently the only way to get a good idea of what is going on there.

    And there is a chilling interview of a man who escaped prison Camp 14. There is a book as well, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to read it.

    Interview - Escape from Camp 14:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqZamsQp2rA

    March 5

  • Joan P.

    Update after finishing the book: yes, it is disturbingly violent, but it is a masterful book with strong writing and unforgettable characters and plot. I feel changed by it. I look forward to our discussion.

    1 · March 5

  • Ellen S.

    I'm about halfway through. Yes, it is violent, and it gets worse. But it does let up for periods of time, and I even found myself laughing then. I can't abide violence in movies very well, but somehow in a book, I can visualize only as much as I can stand. All in all, I think this is an important book.

    1 · February 17

  • Joan P.

    Trigger alert: There's violence and cruelty in this novel. The book is a Pulitzer prize winner and deserving of our discussion, but I know from past discussions that some of our members would like to be alerted when a book is disturbingly violent.

    February 15

    • Lisa S.

      Raw is a really good way to describe it. Or chilling. I have gone through the Kindle sample and am trying to decide if I want to purchase the book and go on. There is enough horror in the world we live in that I really debate whether I want to subject myself so intimately to more.

      February 16

    • Joan P.

      You might want to pass on this one, Lisa. Has anyone finished it yet who can weigh in to advise reluctant readers?

      February 16

  • Joan P.

    Interesting author video here:
    http://youtu.be/CEgqfv5VH-Q

    February 15

    • Janet L.

      Thanks. I'll check it out.

      February 15

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