The acclaimed author of the “sublime” (The New York Times) Far North, a finalist for the National Book Award, returns with a mesmerizing novel about a North Korean boy whose life is irrevocably changed when he stumbles across a mysterious Western book—a guide to Dungeons & Dragons.
Ten-year-old Jun-su is a bright and obedient boy whose only desire is to be a credit to his family, his nation, and most importantly, his Dear Leader. However, when he discovers a copy of The Dungeon Master’s Guide, left behind in a hotel room by a rare foreign visitor, a new and colorful world opens up to him.
With the help of an English-speaking teacher, Jun-su deciphers the rules of the famous role-playing game and his imaginary adventures sweep him away from the harsh reality of a famine-stricken North Korea. Over time, the game leads Jun-su on a spellbinding and unexpected journey through the hidden layers of his country, toward precocious success, glory, love, betrayal, prison, a spell at the pinnacle of the North Korean elite, and an extraordinary kind of redemption.
A vivid, uplifting, and deeply researched novel, The Sorcerer of Pyongyang is a love story and a tale of survival against the odds. Inspired by the testimony of North Korean refugees and drawing on the author’s personal experience of North Korea, it explores the power of empathy and imagination in a society where they are dangerous liabilities.
About the Author
Marcel Theroux is a British American novelist and broadcaster who studied English literature at Cambridge University and international relations at Yale. He is the author of several novels, including The Sorcerer of Pyongyang and Far North, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He lives in London.
"Suspenseful…meticulously researched…entertaining.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Expert, engrossing…a remarkable bildungsroman…A cleverly imagined tale of psychic repression and escape from it.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“Humorous yet insightful…This entertains and edifies in equal measure.” —Publishers Weekly
“Reading The Sorcerer of Pyongyang is an informative and entertaining way to learn about North Korea. Theroux’s painstaking research intimately reveals the workings of North Korean society, in the public and private spheres…[Theroux] writes with intelligence, compassion and an occasional quiet lyricism. Most crucially, the novel powerfully embodies the plight of North Koreans in the state’s vast shadow.” —Krys Lee, The Guardian
“A compulsively readable tale, all the better for being set in one of the most secretive countries in the world. Marcel Theroux captures the extraordinary atmosphere of North Korean life with wit and insight.” —Michael Palin, author of North Korean Journal