Wow! Did Adam Johnson get lucky or what? The Orphan Master’s Son is set to be released in January, just weeks after the death of North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. And this novel could only have been written by someone who has completed extensive research on North Korea life today.
This is the story of Pak Jun Do. His father was the orphan master referred to in the title. Although not an orphan, Jun Do was raised amongst the orphans and given an orphan’s name. Jun Do’s “career path” followed that of many North Koreans. He was conscripted to become a tunnel fighter, skilled in the art of zero-light combat. He then became a kidnapper for the state, preying on innocent Japanese citizens.
With nothing but his own strength and intelligence, Jun Do impersonates the powerful and feared Commander Ga, a close associate of Kim. Jun Do insinuates himself into Ga’s life so completely, that everyone acknowledges that he is Ga. And Jun Do’s goal? Freedom.
North Korea remains the most repressive and secretive nation in the world today. It’s remarkable that Johnson was able to gather so much information about the country, its (former) leader, and the policies that control the lives of its citizens so thoroughly.
I received this book weeks ago from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. I was so put off by the unattractive cover I could not even pick up the book. So-don’t judge a book by its cover. And read this book!
To be published in hardcover-Random House-January 2012
The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel