Fortune Smiles

Fortune Smiles


Book - 2015
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed novel about North Korea, The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson is one of America's most provocative and powerful authors. Critics have compared him to Kurt Vonnegut, David Mitchell, and George Saunders, but Johnson's new book will only further his reputation as one of our most original writers. Subtly surreal, darkly comic, both hilarious and heartbreaking, Fortune Smiles is a major collection of stories that gives voice to the perspectives we don't often hear, while offering something rare in fiction: a new way of looking at the world.

In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. "Nirvana," which won the prestigious Sunday Times short story prize, portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In "Hurricanes Anonymous"--first included in the Best American Short Stories anthology--a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine" follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.

Unnerving, riveting, and written with a timeless quality, these stories confirm Johnson as one of America's greatest writers and an indispensable guide to our new century.

Praise for Fortune Smiles

"Masterful . . . Each [story] is a miniature demonstration of why his remarkable novel The Orphan Master's Son won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction." -- The Washington Post

"Entrancing." -- O: The Oprah Magazine

"Audacious . . . These six long, fearless stories explore dangerous territories, both personal and political." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"One of the most original and compelling voices in contemporary American fiction." -- Entertainment Weekly

"[Johnson] is always perceptive and brave; his lines always sing and strut and sizzle and hush and wash and blaze over the reader." -- The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

"Johnson packs more voice in his stories than most authors do in a novel." -- Esquire

"[Johnson] serves up six sinewy stories that shock and surprise. . . . [They're] compulsively readable tales about characters whose lives are largely ignored, undervalued, or simply uncharted." -- Elle

"Remarkable . . .  Fortune Smiles  is the best short story collection since  Tenth of December . . . . Johnson is one of America's greatest living writers." -- The Huffington Post

"Johnson's [stories] will burrow their way into your heart, leaving you shaken but also exhilarated and enriched. . . .  Fortune Smiles  [is] worth treasuring." -- USA Today (four stars)
"Superb . . . explosive." -- The Wall Street Journal

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2015
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780812997477
Branch Call Number: JOH
Characteristics: 304 p. ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

Finalist: National Book Award

From the critics

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RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

Adam Johnson has followed up his unforgettable novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, with an impressive and equally indelible collection of stories, Fortune Smiles. The six tales in this volume will stay with me for a long time. In particular, three of them feel permanently seared in my mind. In “Hurricanes Anonymous” a father, who is trying to set his life on the right track, finds himself in search of the mother of his infant son in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Johnson’s voice for the story rivals the innovative tone that is so distinctive in the work of Junot Diaz. In “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” a former prison warden in East Germany refuses to believe his past played any role in the horrors of those imprisoned. And in “Dark Meadow” a man struggling with his innermost vices tries to steer his life in a new direction. Each of these remarkable stories shows Johnson’s ability to examine wayward individuals and yet offer an angle of compassion for their troubled lives. Few writers are as bold and daring as Johnson in exploring the conscience of lost souls living on the fringe of society. Nonetheless, he is able to locate the humanity buried somewhere in their core. Even while tackling subjects of personal struggle and suffering, he also finds a way to thread a stream of humor throughout. Ultimately, he offers hope for even the most broken and downtrodden of lives. Fortune Smiles is as brilliant in its range of characters as any story collection I’ve ever read.

May 08, 2018

Definitely do not miss "George Orwell is a Friend of Mine", but each of this stories is indicative of Johnson's storytelling expertise. All stories in this collection touch on disruption and disillusion.

ArapahoeLesley Nov 10, 2016

A set of 6 National Book Award winning stories, Fortune Smiles, was more than I expected as I'm not much of a short story reader. Each story was well told, uncomfortable, yet impacting in it's own way.

sungeun2k1 Aug 20, 2016

Darkly unsettling. Surreally funny, although at times I wasn't sure I was supposed to be laughing. Dark Meadows in particular left me uneasy and unnerved. Every strange situation in 6 short stories seemed a metaphor for the absurdity of North Korea in the final story, or maybe it's the other way around.

Apr 03, 2016

Not a particularly interesting book. Was not impressed but read it all anyway

Mar 19, 2016

It was a normal book and none of the stories were particularly interesting to me. It was easy to read and get through but is not memorable for me.

ChiPubLib_Adults Nov 19, 2015

2015 National Book Award Winner in Fiction.

Aug 04, 2015

The book is titled "Fortune Smiles" not "Interesting Facts: Stories"

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