Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction 2013
FIRST Line: ”Citizens, gather ’round your loudspeaker, for we bring important updates!”
What’s is ABOUT: Pak Jun Do is an orphan, except his father runs the orphanage so he technically isn’t but his dad doesn’t want to treat him any more special than the other boys. The first half of the book is his biography from his childhood on until he disappears into a prison camp after some crazy adventures on a ship and a special trip to Texas. The second half of the book he assumes the identity of one of the most powerful men in North Korea. Ooops – that might be a spoiler, but probably not. We are ‘treated’ to the lifestyles and culture of what it means to live in North Korea. It aint pretty.
“Nobody’s ever safe.” -p.163
What’s GOOD: Satire. To me it means putting horrible things into a funny this-is-crazy gotta-laugh-or-I’ll scream kind of way. And I laughed. A lot. Jun Do was adorable and sweet and had a great heart. He carried out his awful orders but he didn’t let it diminish his light.
What’s maybe NOT so good: It just takes a bit to get into. It is told in such a straight-forward almost non-emotional way, so matter of fact, that it makes it hard to care about the characters until some point you do and then, of course, you keep reading. Also, there is a scene out of order – somewhere when Dear Leader is talking about a woman making it into the corps of bully interrogators but she hadn’t been invited into the ‘club’ until after that part of the story had occurred. Extremely minor but it bothered me. I could be wrong, of course.
FINAL Thoughts: I really was impressed with how the story unfolded and how much I cared about Jun Do. The characters were quirky and believable when what they endure is totally UNbelievable. And yet the author uses true stories as source for this novel! It’s crazy. Scary and crazy.
RATING: Four and half slices of pie: PEACH PIE! But of course. So here’s a picture of a couple of Peach Pie Crumbles with little Cherry Vanilla Pot Pies as sidekicks:
“Someone will save you, he thought… If you just hold tight long enough someone is bound to.” -p. 76