Book 6 of 2014 – The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson

The Orphan Masters Son

The Orphan Masters SonS if you have visited this blog over the last month, you may have noticed that I have been reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Amazon) for a long time! Actually, I finished the book back at the end of February, but have been too lazy to change to the new book I’m reading and didn’t know what to write about the book. See the book is another installment of Edward tries to read literature! The book won author Adam Johnson a Pulitzer Prize and has I’m sure been read by many book clubs throughout the country! As usual, when I read the questions that are presented for book club discussions, I never can answer them!  So then I think, if I can’t answer the questions should I even write about the book. My inner voice answers  “No you shouldn’t -so I didn’t  Anyway that was Book 6 for 2014 and it was a good one (inner voice says “duh, What prize did it win?)

If you are not familiar with the novel here is a brief plot summary – the book has basically two parts in the first part the reader is follows the life of Pak Jun Do, the son of the orphan master. Jun Do names himself after a Korean martyr heralded for his loyalty. From the summary ar BookRags

Jun Do works as a tunnel soldier in the Korean Army and then is sent to serve as a spy on a fishing vessel. When one of the shipmates defects, Jun Do distracts attention by letting himself be mauled by a shark, thus preventing his shipmates from being sent to prison. With his wounds still fresh, Jun Do is sent to America on a diplomatic mission. Since the mission does not go as planned, Jun Do is condemned to a work prison.

In the second part of the novel, Jun Do escapes from prison by killing the head of North Korean prison system Commander Ga and then assuming his identity, complete with wife and family. The wife Sun Moon is the leading actress in North Korea and she too may have assumed an identity that is not consistent with her real being!! The reader is also introduced to another character the interrogator who works for Division 42. The interrogator extracts people’s stories through the use of pain, with the result being that their biography is put on the Division 42 shelves, and if they survive, the interviewees are sent to work on farms, without their memories. In the story the Interrogator is trying to extract information from Commander Ga concerning the fate of Ga’s wife Sun Moon….???

The lasting images the author creates of life in North Korea make you thankful that you don’t live there and leave you feeling sorry for those who do! A soulless society created and controlled by Kim Jong-il.Jo Johnson’s description of life in North Korea, particularly in the country’s prison system matches very closely to the view of life that was presented in Escape from Camp 14 the true-life account of the only escape from a North Korean prison camps. Ok so I went from not wanting to write about the book to maybe writing too much. I’ll end by saying that it’s a great, disturbing read – so check it out. I’d be interested in what anyone else thought about the book!!