Adam Johnson's recently published novel The Orphan Master's Son is introducing many readers to the complex history and multi-layered culture of North Korea. If you'd like to learn more about the political and social climate of this country, here are some suggestions:
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick: Demick's nonfiction work offers a remarkable insider's view of North Korea, as seen through the eyes of six ordinary citizens over fifteen years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il Sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong Il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
Bamboo and Blood: An Inspector O Novel by James Church: In the winter of 1997, trying to stay alive during a famine that has devastated much of North Korea, Inspector O is ordered to play host to an Israeli agent who appears in Pyongyang. When the wife of a North Korean diplomat in Pakistan dies under suspicious circumstances, O is told to investigate, with a curious proviso: Don't look too closely at the details, and stay away from the question of missiles.