The Surprising Inspiration Behind Adam Johnson's Pulitzer Prize

STORY BY Vicky Victoria

Published: April 17, 2013

This week, on April 15, the Pulitzer Prize winners were announced. One pleasant surprise was that , whereas last year’s 2012 Pulitzers saw no award given in the “Fiction” category, this year one author actually managed to garner the coveted honor. Writer Andrew Johnson won the Pulitzer for his novel –The Orphan Master’s Son–.
 
For those who have yet to read the book, –The Orphan Master’s Son– is about what it is like to live in modern day North Korea, and takes a unique look on the country’s of use of propaganda. This foreign subject matter might seem an interesting topic for a man who was born in South Dakota and currently teaches creative writing at Stanford University, but apparently Johnson himself visited North Korea to see what the country was like. He learned a lot and was apparently very affected by North Korea’s rule that prohibits its citizens from interacting with foreigners.
 
Admittedly, I have not read –The Orphan Master’s Son–, though everything I’ve heard about it makes me think I should immediately. Most U.S. citizens, including myself, know little about North Korea, and given its Pulitzer award, it seems like Adam Johnson’s book could offer some creative insight about how the country runs.
 
The most interesting element of the prize-winning novel is what Johnson cites as his inspiration to write it. When I read about the topic of –The Orphan Master’s Son–, I assumed it would merely illuminate just how evil North Korea is, and how horrible it must be to live there. However, it turns out that what gave Johnson the idea to write his book in the first place was what he perceived as a similarity between the propaganda methods used by the North Korean government and certain elements of the George W. Bush administration.
 
This seems a pretty controversial topic to cite as one’s inspiration. Given how little we know about North Korea and how bold his decision to make public his inspiration, I’d be interested to see what parallels Johnson could draw between the dictatorship and our own country. Especially since he had the privilege of  visiting North Korea country himself, I imagine it must be pretty fantastic.
 
Via ABC News
Other Stories by Vicky Victoria
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