Adam Johnson, author of Orphan Master’s Son, gets a Guggenheim! Yayyy!

Author, author! (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

Bravo, Adam! (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

The 2013 John Simon Guggenheim fellows have been announced, and we were pleased to see one friend on the list – Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son.

The whole list of fellows is here.  Another acquaintance was next on the alphabetical list: Bill Johnston, the acclaimed translator of Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz.

The foundation awarded a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, from a field of almost 3,000 applicants this year.

We’re proud that we wrote about Adam even before he became a really big deal, as well as since the applause –  here and here and here and here, among other places.


N. Korean soldier (photo: A. Johnson)

I phoned Adam to offer my congratulations, and caught him just as he was about to go into a class where he is a guest speaker in Moscow, Idaho.  Did he have any words to offer Book Haven readers?  “What should I say?  What should I say?” he asked me.  Heavens, how should we know? We’ve never gotten a Guggenheim.

“I’m thrilled, honored.  I have received the most precious gift a writer can have – time to complete the next project, and to fulfill the potential of the work,” he finally said.

So what’s this next project?  “What?  I can’t say,” he said.  But surely it was in the Guggenheim proposal, so it’s not a secret?  He hemmed and hawed a bit – let’s just call it  “narratives of North Korea,” he said.

Any comments on the latest standoff with North Korea?  He asked me if I’d seen the New York Times article explaining that the renegade nation has most probably learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile, and is “missile ready.”  What did he think about it?  “I’m not a nuclear expert, I write about people,” he said, before ducking into the classroom.  We called out “Congratulations, Adam!” after him.

Update! North Korea celebrates Adam’s award with a funky get down Juche Party!

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