05 June 2012

The Orphan Master's Son ~ Adam Johnson

***** FAVOURITE *****

Winner : Pulitzer Prize 2013
Finalist : National Book Circle Critics Award 2012 
Tournament of the Books : 2013 (winner) 

Wow! North Korea is another world entirely
Almost like sci-fi!

This book held me captive ... which would sound like a cute take on the book, except for the true horror that goes with being captive in North Korea.

While the setting and the narrative are extremely depressing, the book is not.  There is resilience, hope and humanity underlying the heavy cover of violence and deprivation.  This is a world where it pays to be paranoid.  This is a world where you belong to the State and you only survive by accepting the propaganda.  The people are unceasingly fed a version of the "truth", to the point where group mentality is accepted as normal and where they express distress for foreigners who are not so well cared for by their governments and have to pay for goods and make their own decisions.

This is a riveting read.  The cruel edge cuts right through.  The narrative is a patchwork, jumping back and forth on a timeline but I think I relished this as a foil to the compartmentalised prescriptive lives that the characters led.  There was a bit of everything - romance, adventure, drama, torture, innocence, depravity.