Inside North Korea With The Orphan Masters Son

Inside North Korea.  We talk with the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of “The Orphan Master’s Son.”

North Koreans walk bicycles along a street in Kaesong, North Korea, north of the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP)

North Koreans walk bicycles along a street in Kaesong, North Korea, north of the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP)

In the same month that North Korea has unleashed its giant barrage of fury and nuclear threat, the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction has gone to a novel deeply set in North Korea.

The Pulitzer committee commended Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son” as “an exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader… into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.”

North Korea’s still blustering.  And we’re still curious.

This hour, On Point:  Imagining North Korea, with newly-minted Pulitzer Prize winner, Adam Johnson and “the Orphan Master’s Son.”

– Tom Ashbrook


Adam Johnson, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his book “The Orphan Master’s Son.” Professor at Stanford University.

Kim Kwang-Jin, defected from North Korea in 2003 with his wife and son.

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press: Fiction Pulitzer Returns and Adam Johnson wins it — “Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son,” a labyrinthine story of a man’s travails in North Korea, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, restoring a high literary honor a year after no fiction award was given.”

Stanford Daily: Q&A With Pulitzer Prize Winner Adam Johnson — “It was a really challenging book to write, though very rewarding. I had to go far outside my own experience [in] writing about another culture in a very different kind of society that sees the world much differently from me. So I had to leave my comfort zone. But it was very, very rewarding to try to capture lives of other people that are so much different than my own. That sounds like a pretty lame answer. It was really hard to write.”

The Washington Post: The Orphan Master’s Son an Audacious, Believable Tale — “A great novel can take implausible fact and turn it into entirely believable fiction. That’s the genius of ‘The Orphan Master’s Son.’ Adam Johnson has taken the papier-mache creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable.”

Excerpt: ‘The Orphan Master’s Son,’ by Adam Johnson

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