The Orphan Master's Son
By Adam Johnson
Random House, 2012. 443 pgs. Fiction
"The Orphan Master's Son" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2012. It tells the story of Jun Do, a government-sanctioned kidnapper who grew up in a North Korean orphanage run by his distant and damaged father. Life is hard for most North Koreans but it is particularly difficult for orphans. And though he is technically not an orphan, Jun Do will never be able to shake the prejudices against his upbringing.
Jun Do's life is anything but uneventful as he finds himself repeatedly thrown into odd and disturbing situations. Still, he manages to successfully navigate them, partially due to his ability to reinvent himself when necessary.
I am not sure exactly what I was expecting when I picked up "The Orphan Master's Son." It had won a Pulitzer, so I figured it was worth reading. But what I found was an unexpectedly tender story of identity, family, and love which takes place in a society incredibly foreign to our own. Johnson's work is worthy of the accolades it has already received along with a wide readership for years to come.