Ginseng Hunter: Book summary and reviews of Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo

Ginseng Hunter

by Jeff Talarigo

Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008
    192 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Talarigo hypnotically weaves the strands of these stories together against a backdrop of stunning scenery and of cruelty, creating a memorable, morally stringent tale." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. By subtly relating the struggle of plant life on the forest floor to the human struggle at the border, Talarigo offers us a novel that is ultimately a study of survival under hostile conditions. Highly recommended." - Library Journal.

"This is a quiet and poetically written novel, but the painfully slow pace precludes deep involvement on the part of the reader." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Jeff Talarigo won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award for his first novel, The Pearl Diver. After living in Japan for almost fourteen years, he, with his wife and son, moved back to the United States in 2006. He was awarded a fellowship at the New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The Ginseng Hunter is his second novel.

Apparently, 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.

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