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The Orphan Master's Son Audiobook

The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2013

An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.

From the Hardcover edition.

©2011 Adam Johnson (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

  • Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • “An addictive novel of daring ingenuity, a study of sacrifice and freedom in a citizen-eating dynasty, and a timely reminder that anonymous victims of oppression are also human beings who love - The Orphan Master’s Son is a brave and impressive book.” (David Mitchell, author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet)

    “I’ve never read anything like it. This is truly an amazing reading experience, a tremendous accomplishment. I could spend days talking about how much I love this book. It sounds like overstatement, but no. The Orphan Master’s Son is a masterpiece.” (Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children)

    “Adam Johnson has pulled off literary alchemy, first by setting his novel in North Korea, a country that few of us can imagine, then by producing such compelling characters, whose lives unfold at breakneck speed. I was engrossed right to the amazing conclusion. The result is pure gold, a terrific novel.” (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (2512 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jessica 03-03-15
    Jessica 03-03-15 Member Since 2013

    Audible addict!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    41
    11
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    "A new favorite"

    A strange mix of poetry in well narrated prose, this book stands alone and has no real comparison. Recommended by a colleague, I listened and found myself mesmerized and immersed in a whole new world. This book challenges our idea of culture and opens you up to the struggle to maintain one's sense of self in the face of impossible circumstances. The story is brutal and frustrating but written so well that you almost float through the experience. Well done!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobby 02-24-15
    Bobby 02-24-15
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    "Enlightening"

    Well performed! It is a revealing aesthetic portrait of North Korea. Adam Johnson is a masterful storyteller. A must listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loretta 02-18-15
    Loretta 02-18-15
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    Story
    "Truth verses freedom"

    This book gives you a perspective on what truly is freedom. And how we see truth ...what truth really is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    juanacas88 02-04-15
    juanacas88 02-04-15 Listener Since 2008
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    7
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    Story
    "Un pais zombi bajo el yugo de un tirano"

    escalofriante relato de como extirpar lo que nos hace diferente a los demas seres vivos

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristine Bruneau Rochester area 01-23-15
    Kristine Bruneau Rochester area 01-23-15 Member Since 2017

    Writer and Marketing Consultant

    ratings
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    7
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    Story
    "Epic tale of storytelling"

    Emotional and captivating, it was not a book that I would choose (book club choice) but I feel better for having read it. Descriptive and poignant while depicting harsh realities of what life must be like in North Korea -- all wound in a web of illusion. Some parts were slow to build and tedious but perhaps that was all part of the plan. Outstanding narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-11-15

    slwk

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    6
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    "Gripping!"

    This fascinating novel was exquisitely beautiful in its use of language, and heartbreakingly insightful into the lives of North Koreans. The recording was exceptional.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL USA 10-16-14
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL USA 10-16-14 Member Since 2014

    KathrynVB

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    "Brutal tale about a brutal part of the world"

    I could not finish this book. It was joyless and harsh. Be forewarned that this is a story from a brutal land, North Korea, where one's ability to withstand physical and mental anguish is the mark of a man. You will not be spared.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LKH Denver, CO 09-16-14
    LKH Denver, CO 09-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    Story
    "Very interesting, a bit jumbled"
    Any additional comments?

    With little information about North Korea, I was enthralled to delve into the lives of the different characters. While the book played to my interest in this unknown nation, I felt that the story itself was a little jumbled. It constantly flipped between past, present and future, often with little warning. I am curious if the story would have felt more cohesive if I had read the book instead of listened to it. While the different time periods sometimes made the story feel dense, overall it was a good book that I would recommend to those interested in the culture and individuals of North Korea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane C. 07-24-14
    Jane C. 07-24-14 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "an eye opener"
    What made the experience of listening to The Orphan Master's Son the most enjoyable?

    I appreciated the insight into North Korea. The main character had such integrity for someone who came from such dire conditions. I was happy, happy, happy after reading the happy ending.


    What other book might you compare The Orphan Master's Son to and why?

    Cutting for Stone is also about a boy from a restrictive culture who had integrity and the drive to succeed. I would also compare Goldfiinch, in that that boy had a fairly normal start in life but was a liar and a thief from the time he was young, even before his mother died.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I have not listened to any others.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Orphan Master's Son and why?

    The main character and Moon Sun.


    Any additional comments?

    I would love to read a sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark La Veta, CO, United States 06-27-14
    Mark La Veta, CO, United States 06-27-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Stunning and contradictory"

    No need at this point to discuss the plot. An alien culture yet universal human appeal. Compelling plot yet frequent revulsion and disgust. Outstanding narration too. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but a worthy prize winner for a simultaneous punch to the brain and heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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