Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The Farthest Reaches of the Most Isolated Place in the World

April 19, 2013 This week novelist Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction—a prize no novelist took home in 2012—for The Orphan Master’s Son, which was released to wide critical acclaim in January of last year. Johnson is also the author of a story collection, Emporium (2002), and another novel, Parasites Like Us (2003). Today he speaks with Chapter 16‘s Stephen Usery about The Orphan Master’s Son, the story of a North Korean boy living in a Soviet-built and now largely lawless city far from the nation’s center of power in Pyongyang.

“To grow up here was to grow up in the farthest reaches of the most isolated place in the world, where people did anything to survive,” Johnson says in the interview. “I wanted to depict the journey of a character from the ultimate no-man’s land in the ultimate repressive regime available as he slowly moved through a series of events toward the seat of power, where the black hole of gravity of Kim Jong Il warped everything around him.”