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How I Became a North Korean: A Novel
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Penguin Publishing Group 2016
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"Lee takes us into urgent and emotional novelistic terrain: the desperate and tenuous realms defectors are forced to inhabit after escaping North Korea." –Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son "The more confusing and horrible our world becomes, the more critical the role of fiction in communicating both the facts and the meaning of other people's lives. Krys Lee joins writers like Anthony Marra, Khaled Hosseini and Elnathan John in this urgent work." –San Francisco ChronicleYongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea's most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long made him an outcast in his California high school. These three disparate lives converge when they flee their homes, finding themselves in a small Chinese town just across the river from North Korea. As they fight to survive in a place where danger seems to close in on all sides, in the form of government informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries, they come to form a kind of adoptive family. But will Yongju, Jangmi and Danny find their way to the better lives they risked everything for? Transporting the reader to one of the least-known and most threatening environments in the world, and exploring how humanity persists even in the most desperate circumstances, How I Became a North Korean is a brilliant and essential first novel by one of our most promising writers.A FINALIST FOR THE 2016 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZELonglisted for the Carnegie MedalOne of The Millions' most anticipated books of the second half of 2016 One of Elle.com's "11 Best Books to Read in August" One of Bookpage's "Six Stellar Summer Debuts" From the Hardcover edition.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/02/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780399563935
ASIN:
B0191ZL2U6
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Krys Lee. (2016). How I Became a North Korean: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Krys Lee. 2016. How I Became a North Korean: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Krys Lee, How I Became a North Korean: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Krys Lee. How I Became a North Korean: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Jun 12, 2018 15:16:46
Date Updated:
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Apr 04, 2021 03:14:26
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How I Became a North Korean
fullDescription
"Lee takes us into urgent and emotional novelistic terrain: the desperate and tenuous realms defectors are forced to inhabit after escaping North Korea." –Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son
"The more confusing and horrible our world becomes, the more critical the role of fiction in communicating both the facts and the meaning of other people's lives. Krys Lee joins writers like Anthony Marra, Khaled Hosseini and Elnathan John in this urgent work." –San Francisco Chronicle

Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea's most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long made him an outcast in his California high school.
These three disparate lives converge when they flee their homes, finding themselves in a small Chinese town just across the river from North Korea. As they fight to survive in a place where danger seems to close in on all sides, in the form of government informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries, they come to form a kind of adoptive family. But will Yongju, Jangmi and Danny find their way to the better lives they risked everything for?
Transporting the reader to one of the least-known and most threatening environments in the world, and exploring how humanity persists even in the most desperate circumstances, How I Became a North Korean is a brilliant and essential first novel by one of our most promising writers.
A FINALIST FOR THE 2016 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal
One of The Millions' most anticipated books of the second half of 2016

One of Elle.com's "11 Best Books to Read in August"

One of Bookpage's "Six Stellar Summer Debuts"
From the Hardcover edition.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 13, 2016
        “On nights like this, it feels as if we’re the only people remaining on the planet,” says Yongju, a young man whose family had been Pyongyang aristocracy until the Dear Leader decided otherwise and shot his father. But Jangmi, who crossed the border because she was pregnant with the baby of a comrade who was married to someone else, replies with a clarification: “No... it’s more as if the entire world is elsewhere and we’ve been forced out.” The two have recently met in a cave in China. And although they’ve made it that far, Jangmi and Yongju still have a long way to go. Lee (Drifting House) structures her novel across four successive parts, “Crossing,” “The Border,” “Safe,” and “Freedom,” as it follows the two, along with Danny, a Christian Korean-American teenager from Fresno, through each stage of their escapes. Though the three characters all start from very different places, geographically, economically, and emotionally, they meet in the cave. From there, each will then make his or her way across another border to South Korea, again finding themselves together in the home of a Christian minister with more nefarious inclinations than his generosity initially indicates. Their haunting stories reveal the darkness of life in North Korea as well as the enormous risk of escape, resulting in a vivid and harrowing read.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 1, 2016
        Glimpses of a hidden world from the award-winning author of Drifting House (2012).Lee's debut novel begins at a party in Pyongyang. Government officials and celebrities show off Rolex watches and fur coats. They eat fish imported from Tokyo, they toast their Dear Leader with Chivas Regal, and they watch girls in hot pants dance to forbidden American pop. It's a surreal display of wealth and privilege overshadowed by terror. These elites are protected from the famine and despair that plague their country, but they're still subject to the whims of a mercurial, all-powerful dictator. This scene is narrated by a young man, Yongju, and it culminates in the assassination of his father. This fall from grace leads to an escape into China, and that's where he meets the novel's other narrators. Danny is Korean by heritage, Chinese by birth, and a permanent resident of the United States. While visiting his Christian missionary mother back in China, he runs away, is robbed of his passport, and joins a group of other young outcasts in order to survive. Jangmi is a young North Korean woman who smuggles herself across the border to marry a Chinese man; she's forced to flee her new home when this man realizes she's pregnant with someone else's child. The best parts of this book are in its beginning. The banquet where Yongju's father is assassinated, for instance, is quite particular in its weirdness and horror. Jangmi's reaction to the bounty she finds in China is both an appreciation and a critique of consumerism. And the ways in which all these characters must confront prejudice are interesting. All too soon, though, their stories converge into a tale of survival that is both familiar and flat. Lee barely explores the contrast between Yongju's sheltered upbringing and the depredations he endures in China. Hunger and homelessness are also surprisingly easy for Danny, a kid from the suburbs of southern California. Only Jangmi's travails are believable and compelling. Promising start; disappointing finish.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 15, 2016

        Star student Yongju is from a powerful North Korean family, on-her-lonesome Jangmi scrappily survives by smuggling goods across the border, and Chinese American teenager Danny (also of Korean heritage) is too smart for his own good. They meet in the China-North Korea borderlands, where Jangmi seeks safety for her unborn child and Yongju safety from persecution after his father is killed by the Dear Leader; Danny is escaping the sort of persecution high school can deliver by visiting his missionary mother. Surrounded by thieves, abductors, and government informants, with even the missionaries posing a threat, these young people form their own little family and look to a better life. Lee's first novel follows the much-heralded Drifting House, winner of the 2012 Story Prize Spotlight Award, and will be grabbed by eager readers.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
"Lee takes us into urgent and emotional novelistic terrain: the desperate and tenuous realms defectors are forced to inhabit after escaping North Korea." –Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son
"One of the best books I've read in a good long while. While North Korea is at its center, the themes of love, family and our debt to our fellow human beings will resonate universally." –Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea's most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long made him an outcast in his California high school.
These three disparate lives converge when they flee their homes, finding themselves in a small Chinese town just across...
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publisher
Penguin Publishing Group