Jia: Hyejin Kim

The author states her book is a novel based on an “amalgam” of actual people she met during her academic studies and work involving North Korea.

The facts paint a stark picture of the “Hermit Nation,” but it’s not much of a novel, really just a series of poorly connected anecdotes that don’t even evince sympathy for the characters described. The writing is bland and uninspiring, and the plot doesn’t leave us wanting to know what happens next.

This fails abysmally as fiction; try James Church’s INSPECTOR O’s series instead.

Bamboo and Blood: James Church

I have no idea if North Korea is truly like Church displays. I doubt if anyone does. But Church writes so realistically, I have no trouble believing that people such as Inspector O do exist in a society such as Church portrays. Fantastic series.

The Orphan Master’s Son: Adam Johnson

Read this book.


It is that good (and not just because it was the Pulitzer Prize winner).

We can have no idea how accurate the details that are portrayed in this fictional account of the Hermit Kingdom are, but it is compelling nevertheless.

Read it.