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The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel
Format: HardcoverModifier
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le 18 juin 2015
Very good but very sad too.
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1 sur 1 personnes ont trouvé le commentaire suivant utile
Firstly, the standard disclaimer. I received this book in a GoodReads drawing so it made its way to my door at no cost as part of the book's marketing. Even so, as always I will endeavor to give the book an honest airing.

I rated the Orphan Master at 5 stars but to be honest it's a rather weak five stars. The topic, the novel and varied life of a North Korean orphan and conscripted soldier, is automatically amusing before the second page is even turned. We get to see what life is at least theorized to be like in that backwards little Asian country. The depiction is keenly Orwellian and inspires great pity for a people so ruthlessly used by a tyrant for generations.

All that said though it does begin, after a while to inspire a bit of ennui. There's only so much to say and Johnson seems to say it again and again and again. At half way I was a ship happily adrift in the sea of this novel. By the last few pages I was just tired and looking for the shore. The ending, though dramatic and appropriate, failed to spur me to awe because of the length of time it took to get to it and the fact that it was fairly obvious after all the lead-up.

Well worth a read, perhaps spread out over a lazy week or so. Transitions between narrators can be abrupt in the last half of the book though so take special care to figure out exactly who it is suddenly using the first person before you go to far. Enjoy!
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le 18 mai 2015
An awesome read holding you captive from the beginning page. Sending you tumbling into confusion as the time and narrative changes. Could not put it down. A truly great read and horrifically realistic insight as to what North Korea may be like.
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le 8 février 2015
Half way through this difficult read and will not continue. Have already grasped the essential message that North Korea is dehumanizing .. soul destroying -- the entire country a prison in itself. Don't quibble with Johnson's ability to write well, but think that his point could have been made in half the time. To force the reader to endure page after page of descriptions of the mechanized brutality of the state, may reinforce his message, but also tries the reader's patience.
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le 23 novembre 2014
The anti- North Korean bias made characterization irrelevant - but an unusual narrative structure - Pulitzer worthy - not sure.
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le 9 mai 2014
The book was confusing and unclear in the characterization of the main characters. I kept losing the main gist of the story. It was confusing at times.
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le 5 avril 2014
This is a very strange book. I am not sure how representative it is of North Korea. It definitely left me wondering.
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le 18 février 2014
In another book, 'Nothing to Envy -Ordinary Lives in North Korea ' by Barbara Demick in the first chapter is a satellite view of N & S Korea at night. The bottom half has a smattering of lit up inhabited areas w Seoul largely evident as the capitol by the size of whiteness or lightness against blackness of night. Whereas, the upper N. Korea looks almost non existent, a couple of dots like two pple smoking or an insignificant flicker a plane against starless universe. So daunting is that image taken from space, it has stayed w me as the 'picture says it all'.

I realize this author was awarded the Pulitzer Prize be sure to read the short interview at the end w editor asking the questions. As this is a novel & not based on real characters, I know of the propaganda constantly being fed to the poor to ensure allegiance to "Dear Dictator, the father" before family members. The great famine is not exaggerated, (the worst imaginable, hundreds of thousands died, yet outside aid was rejected which oddly is absent, I believe, in this narrative)Imo, there were too many scenarios that were obviously created to personalize , since the author was not given access to interview the 'common pple' during his visit to N K. As expected, he was escorted & closely watched as he made his way to sites & places. He was allowed to request (within reason of a Communist country living in the dark day & night where pple were made to believe there were no better places & contained elements of deprived living, , working in terrible conditions however he went to an Orphanage which has a constant underscoring in the story. The rest of his information was through interviewing those who defected, though he d o es say few do.

In my opinion, there was one flaw in the conveying the reality of N.K as Adams says, readers relate to pple not things, so he created characters based on his interaction w NK defectors & what he witnessed in a supervized tour. If you want to depict w authenticity, why make the characters speak like Americans? I found this distracting, as it lessened the credibility. I understand that a Korean speaking English would sound as such, direct translation never comes out the same. But Jun the "translator" who was used to eaves drop on conversations over his radio at sea, was to basically understand & be able to forward the gist to NK authorities, never was adept at speaking, yet he's fluent in some scenarios w Americans, as is his phrasing. But it's the constant dialogue which is supposed to be in native tongue but translated for us, just misses any expressions, terms, idiom of speech. We don't all say the same thing the same ways & that's mostly how the characters spoke. Only the daily announcements, propaganda came closer to authentic. I think there is so much that readers want to know about NK that these sci fi & James Bond scenarios were un necessary the Texas visit, they didn't feel plausible , as w turning into Capt Ga after his demise & everyone treating you as him though they know he's not.

There are special touches such as the rowers that Jun hears over the radio. The constant making up stories between men for the knowledge they will be punished for another's escape or being where they shouldnt be in waters fishing, finding Nike's shoes....discovery the last holiday place for elders isn't there.

The story is disjointed, i often wasn't sure what was past or present, who was w ho, esp when a previous character who is the main one, becomes someone else who is also featured, so that Ga is the real Ga, & Ga is Jun. You find him transformed before the explanation is given as to why, how, & where is Ga?

I do have a question that I'd put to the writer. Knowing what you know, & having written a chilling & derogatory book which reveals N.K as a place worse than hell...why do you thank by name a few pple in Korea who accompanied you & were assigned for you NOT to see anything that could be transcribed as negative, much less evil? Surely, they did not know you were using this approved (rarely given) visit for this purpose. What do you think will become of those who will be accused of telling information they should never have? The fact you sourced it from libraries & interviews from defectors won't make any difference will it? Who will pay the cost when you recd the Pulitzer Prize? .....according to your own words, someone(s) take the fall. I was left w this haunting thought.
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le 28 décembre 2013
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The author did a lot of research on life in North Korea and it comes across in the writing to completely immerse you in the experience. Based on facts, historical events, places and people, this non-fiction peice of literary heaven will leave you wanting more from the first page right through to the last. A great read.
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le 5 octobre 2013
Not having many preconceived ideas about a story which takes place in North Korea, I was soon gripped by this unique, complex tale. The author takes the reader places which are highly uncomfortable, while intriguing. The characters are well-developed and leave an impression, although a haunting one.
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