Author Interviews

'Orphan': A New Novel Imagines Life In North Korea

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Orphan Master's Son

A Novel

by Adam Johnson

Hardcover, 443 pages |


Purchase Featured Book

The Orphan Master's Son
A Novel
Adam Johnson

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

When North Korean President Kim Jong Il died last month, media outlets around the world tried to cover the story with very few facts. That's because there really are no clear facts about North Korea. It's arguably the most closed society in the world — run as a hereditary fiefdom by a family of dictators.

We're now on the third generation of that family, the newly installed Kim Jong Un. Journalists and writers are rarely granted access to North Korea, and when they are, they're escorted by official minders and see mostly what the regime wants them to see — leaving a whole lot to the imagination.

That's where Adam Johnson comes in. His new novel is called The Orphan Master's Son. In it, Johnson uses his own imagination to reveal a more nuanced picture of what life for North Koreans may be like.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from