An intricate novel of "the most democratic nation on Earth-North Korea." The author weaves a tale of conflict, lies, deception and human nature. Well worth the read.
Pak was portrayed as having so many facets and experiences.
The narrators bring depth to the characters.
Commander Ga was the most memorable because of his cruelty.
The story, the view into North Korea
The performance, the story, and the details of life in North Korea were all great.
Experiencing cultures, past and present, through historical fiction.
Yes, I have already recommended to friends.
I could not anticipate any of this. The story captivated me! I replayed portions of this book just to be able to wrap my mind around the circumstances described in the story. Loved the entire story.
Not sure, the story was very interesting but I did not read it.
Yes. Many moments in this book were quite moving. An entire nation held captive. Uncertainty of situation, status and even family loyalty.
I purchased the Kindle version of this when it was published. I gave up after 75 pages, believing it too dark and foreign for me to care much about it.
Then, Adam Johnson was awarded the Pulitzer Price in Fiction for 2013 for this novel, and I exclaimed, Good Grief! I bought the audiobook version, had to start over and gave up again around the same point.
For whatever reason though, I repurchased the audiobook, pulled out the Kindle version and made one more stab. Not 10 pages after my stopping point, I became interested and then I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
And, I cannot laud it highly enough to do it justice in my book. Excellent development of characters and subtext to perfectly place of the reader in another world and a wonderful story that seemed so real (based loosely on one that is). The representation of North Korean life and the dictatorship made the story all the more profound and effective. Consider, for example, the news within the past 6 months that the Kim Jong Un had 9 orchestra members executed to squash rumors that his wife, a singer, was "friendly" prior to marrying the Jong Un.
A quote in the book relating life in North Korea:
“I wonder of what you must daily endure in America, having no government to protect you, no one to tell you what to do. Is it true you're given no ration card, that you must find food for yourself? Is it true that you labor for no higher purpose than paper money? What is California, this place you come from? I have never seen a picture. What plays over the American loudspeakers, when is your curfew, what is taught at your child-rearing collectives? Where does a woman go with her children on Sunday afternoons, and if a woman loses her husband, how does she know the government will assign her a good replacement? With whom would she curry favor to ensure her children got the best Youth Troop leader?”
This novel has adventure, suspense, a great literary structure and even some romance:
“They’re about a woman whose beauty is like a rare flower. There is a man who has a great love for her, a love he’s been saving up for his entire life, and it doesn’t matter that he must make a great journey to her, and it doesn’t matter if their time together is brief, that afterward he might lose her, for she is the flower of his heart and nothing will keep him from her.”
I loved this book. The parts with Kim Jong-il gave me goosebumps and were scary funny.
This is the best book I've read/listened to in quite a few years. Sometimes perseverence pays, particularly in audiobooks. I probably wouldn't have finished this if I'd had to pick back up the book in print instead of just turning up the audio version on the way to and from work.
This tells a gruesome tale of a life most of us cannot imagine... but it is told with such style and even moment of humor.
There is a visit to Texas by the Koreans that is priceless...
The dialogue by someone very comfortable with Korean makes so much of it easier to understand and visualize.
A difficult start with the grim details but a beautifully woven tale of perseverance and determination.
This is a monumental work of contemporary historical fiction. It works as a character study, spy thriller, and expose of the world's most reclusive country. I found the details of North Korean life - the privations, the omnipresent "Big Brotherish" intrusions by the state into every facet of life, and the duplicitous goings on of the power brokers and their minions to be utterly fascinating. The author's brief interview at the end sheds a lot of welcome light on how he managed to paint such a credible portrait of the North Korean state. I also have to give him credit for the audacity to put Kim Jong Il front and center as one of the main characters. In some ways, this book reminded me of the Arkady Renko novels of Martin Cruz Smith and will appeal to those who like their fiction set in lands both mysterious and unfathomable. The superb narration adds rather than detracts from the story which is unusual for this genre IMO. This book is not to be missed!
I would not listen to this book again, because the characters' names were too confusing in listening format. It would have been less problematic visually, I think.
The most interesting part of this book was the verisimilitude to current affairs. The horrific storyline was more than credible, knowing what we hear in the news about North Korea at present.
The performer was masterful at creating the cadence and enunciation of Korean speech, and equally adept at both female and male voices.
The story was SO painful, I had a hard time actually finishing this book.
My reading buddy recommended this--no my usual type of book. I found it fascinatingly warped in the sense that reality is not reality. It is what the environment dictates and accepts. Very well written and read. It made me do some research on N. Korea. I would recommend this book to anyone.
The narration, hands down, is outstanding. It adds so much to the book.
As much as others have reviewed this book as being about the horrors of North Korea, to me, at its core is a love story. The interregator's love for his parents...and a man's love for "his" wife and children... And the lengths they will go to for that love. What would you do in a land of no hope and oppression for the ones you love?
This is one of the few books that I have listened to that I would enjoy listening to again to enjoy all of the literary nuances one more time.
My favorite so far
The end, describing the main characters feelings and new paradigm
I haven't listened to any other of his, but this one was excellent
The writing in this book was excellent. After acclimating to the darkness of the subject matter, the writing drew me in and didn't let go. The author takes a gloomy setting and is able to insert humor and life. It's a love story at it's heart - love of life, of surviving, of freedom. I recommend it wholeheartedly.