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The Ginseng Hunter

The Ginseng Hunter
Author: Jeff Talarigo
ISBN 13: 9780307275233
ISBN 10: 30727523
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: 2009-04-07
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
List Price: $15.00

Set at the turn of the twenty-first century in China along the Tumen River, which separates northeast China and North Korea, The Ginseng Hunter is an unforgettable portrait of life along a fragile border.

A Chinese ginseng hunter lives alone in the valley and spends his days up in the mountains looking for ginseng and preparing for winter. He is scarcely aware of the larger world until shadowy figures hiding in the fields, bodies floating in the river, and rumors of thievery and murder begin to intrude on his cherished solitude. On one of his monthly trips to Yanji, where he buys supplies and visits a brothel, he meets a young North Korean prostitute. Through her vivid tales, the tragedy occurring across the river unfolds, and over the course of the year the hunter unnervingly discovers that the fates of the young woman and four others rest in his hands.

Spare, intimate, and strikingly atmospheric, The Ginseng Hunter takes us into the little-understood lives of North Koreans and confirms Jeff Talarigo's immense gift for storytelling.

The Ginseng Hunter is based on actual events that are happening today in North Korea, also known as the DPRK, and along the Northeast border of China, to where many North Korean refugees flee.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, Liberty in North Korea, or LiNK, an international NGO, maintains programs in refugee protection and resettlement, leadership development for North Korean defectors, advocacy to stakeholders in the North Korean crisis, and the empowerment of citizens to make a difference with effective action. To learn more, please visit www.LiNKglobal.org .

Publishers Weekly

Set on China's fraught, ruggedly beautiful border with North Korea, Talarigo's tense, atmospheric second novel (after The Pearl Diver) movingly dramatizes the human faces behind political oppression. A nameless middle-aged Chinese man-whose mother was Chinese and father was Korean-maintains a quiet, relatively stable life gathering the valuable ginseng root. In strict adherence to family traditions, he takes only a single root a day when he can find them; once a month he stays overnight in the city of Yanji, at Miss Wong's bordello. On one such trip, he spends the night with a young North Korean refugee who tells a harrowing story of oppression. Alternating with her story is the tale of a North Korean mother and young daughter who are forcibly separated during famine; the daughter washes up tragically at the gatherer's door, while the mother might or might not be the refugee prostitute. Talarigo hypnotically weaves the strands of these stories together against a backdrop of stunning scenery and of cruelty, creating a memorable, morally stringent tale. (Apr.)

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