Jun-su, a young boy living through the brutality of the North Korean Famine, comes across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide and falls deeply in love with the worlds he can now create, enormously different from the life he’s used to under Kim Jong-il. The strange book’s cover and themes land him in a brutal prison camp where he has to fight to stay alive and try to hold on to himself in the face of totalitarianism. A well-researched, well-written and beautifully told portrait of a kid growing up different in 1990s North Korea trying to do more than survive.
The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux (List Price: $26.99, Atria Books, 9781668002667, November 2022)
Reviewed by Colin Sneed, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina