Jeff Talarigo can take some of the most horrific experiences a human being might face and somehow craft breathtakingly beautiful, haunting works of fiction. His luminous 2004 debut, The Pearl Diver, about the forced confinement of tuberculosis victims in mid-20th century Japan, was unforgettable. His latest, The Ginseng Hunter, chronicles a year in the life of a middle-aged Chinese man who lives alone on his family farm, located along the Tumen River which marks the border between rural China and devastated North Korea. His quiet, isolated life is interrupted by the desperate survivors who risk all to escape the deprivation and terror of their North Korean homeland. While too many others have chosen betrayal in order to survive, the farmer chooses to take grave risks in order to save even the so-called enemy – and hold onto his own humanity. …[click here for more]
Tidbit: My original review of The Ginseng Hunter (linked above) ran in Christian Science Monitor, then got picked up over the next day in some 20-plus other publications around the country and even the world! My few minutes of fame, that’s for sure!