Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize winning book about life in North Korea. Jun Do grows up in his father's orphanage. He has power over which orphans are sent to deplorable work details, which orphans have food, and which orphans have to sleep out in the cold. Just as Jun Do controls the orphans' lives, the Communist government of North Korea has control over the fates of all its citizens.

It's not long before Jun Do is conscripted by the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea to work as a fighter, a kidnapper, a translator, a hero, and then a diplomat. His final service is to visit the state of Texas to try and negotiate for the return of a mysterious object belonging to Kim Jung Il. The trip is not a success and Jun Do is thrown into prison. He loses himself in the hellish landscape of North Korea's prison system, but eventually escapes after killing the Minister of Prisons and becoming his victim, Commander Ga.

The new Commander Ga has done something no one else has even dreamed of before. He has killed his suppressor and seamlessly stepped into his life. He goes to Ga's home and introduces himself to Ga's wife, Sun Moon, as her new husband. Kim Jung Il accepts the usurper because he is not a rival like the previous Commander Ga and uses him to negotiate again with the Americans. But Commander Ga and Sun Moon are no longer loyal to their dictator and plan to escape the dangers of North Korea. Will they be able to escape or is the Dear Leader too powerful?

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