It might seem like slightly odd timing to release a novel that includes a fictionalized narrative by Kim Jong-il, seeing that the self-described “Dear Leader” of North Korea recently died. Then again, maybe it's the best time. The specter of Kim will long hang over the people he ruled, and it will continue to loom large in the Western imagination, considering North Korea is such a secretive nation that's also a nuclear threat – and the little we know about Kim points to his being a fabulously bizarre individual.
Fortunately, Adam Johnson is a nuanced and generous author with an understated wit, and his debut novel The Orphan Master's Son will probably enjoy a longer life than the dictator. Johnson appears Tuesday night at The Booksmith.