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Fortune Smiles [Reading] ➸ Fortune Smiles Author Adam Johnson – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed and bestselling novel The Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson is one of America's most provocative and powerful authors In Fortune Smiles his first book sin Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed and bestselling novel The Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson is one of America's most provocative and powerful authors In Fortune Smiles his first book since Orphan Master he continues to give voice to characters rarely heard from while offering something we all seek from fiction a new way of looking at our worldIn six masterly stories Johnson delves deep into love and loss natural disasters the influence of technology and how the political shapes the personal 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 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 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 uality these stories confirm Johnson as one of America's greatest writers and an indispensable guide to our new century.

  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Fortune Smiles
  • Adam Johnson
  • English
  • 01 July 2016
  • 9780857522979

About the Author: Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson was born in South Dakota and raised in Arizona He earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University in ; a MFA from the writing program at McNeese State University in ; and a PhD in English from Florida State University in Johnson is currently a San Francisco writer and associate professor in creative writing at Stanford University He founded the Stanford Graphi.

10 thoughts on “Fortune Smiles

  1. Richard Richard says:

    Fortune Smiles is an award winning collection of short stories by the American writer Adam JohnsonNot usually a fan of short stories I did enjoy this volume and it’s encouraged me to read Most of the central characters in these tales lead lonely remote lives and are a little awkward in the world around them The storylines are jagged and unsettling a light is shone on the cracks in society and usually untalked of subjects are talked aboutFortune Smiles is an uncomfortable read at times but it’s clear eyed dark and truthfulNirvanaSet a little in the future it features a man and his paralysed wife and looks at the possibilities of a high tech virtual world and lonelinessHurricanes AnonymousRandall traverses Louisiana in the wake of hurricane Eric in his UPS truck with his two year old son riding shotgun He searches this scattered and upturned world for his ex partner who unceremoniously left the boy with him before disappearing Interesting FactsAn uncomfortable sad but strangely humorous story of a woman coping with cancer and ghosts and a husband she worries aboutGeorge Orwell Was My FriendAn East German prison warden deals with the reunification of Germany his prison closing down and his wife leaving himIn self denial he rewrites his personal and professional historyDark MeadowsA cyber security tech guy lives a stark lonely life He’s damaged he’s a pedophile and he tries to come to terms with the person he’s becomeFortune SmilesTwo North Koreans have defected to the south Impoverished outsiders they struggle for a foothold in a bright rich shiny new city This story concerns love loss belonging and balloons

  2. Glenn Sumi Glenn Sumi says:

    It’s been a week since I finished this knockout collection of six stories – which recently won the National Book Award – and its characters continue to haunt me Among them are two North Korean defectors who are lost and aimless in Seoul; a UPS delivery guy in chaotic post Katrina New Orleans who’s temporarily living with his son he thinks it’s his son anyway while the boy’s mother is AWOL and his own estranged dad is dying in LA; a former Stasi prison warden whose offensive rant while waving around his dog’s poo ends up in a viral YouTube video; a pedophile who debugs computers and finds himself drawn to a young neighbourThe settings – you get a sense of their range from the above paragraph – are distinct and efficiently set up As with George Saunders’s work there’s a sense of urgency to these tales and the people in them Characters are dying or have died; they’re homesick; they’re living in a world they no longer understand; they’re trying to avoid the temptations that have caused them to stray beforeOne of the main themes is dislocation and dealing with loss Nowhere is this made clearer than in Nirvana the opening story in which a man whose wife has a debilitating degenerative disease creates a program in which you can talk to the recently assassinated president his replies are drawn from things he said while he was aliveJohnson who teaches writing at Stanford and won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Orphan Master’s Son note there’s a character who also teaches writing and won a Pulitzer in the book so think what you like knows how to create memorable voicesSun ho a short feisty gangster in the title story set in South Korea practically leaps off the page with his schemes and yearnings The operator of a halfway house in the post Katrina story is the voice of reason even if her words have a hectoring tone And the pedophile’s tale? Yes Johnson goes there and he makes him simultaneously sympathetic and scary Shouldn’t the best fiction get you inside the heads of people you don’t know?Make no mistake These are literary stories They take work And they reward rereading so you can see how carefully they’ve been constructed But you won’t soon forget them

  3. Perry Perry says:

    Here we are now entertain usHello hello hello how low Smells Like Teen Spirit NirvanaAdam Johnson winner of the 2013 Pulitzer for the phenomenal The Orphanmaster's Son won the 2015 National Book Award for this collection of six stories which are illuminative inventive at times humorous and always prosefully puissant storiesIn the story Nirvana set in the near future husband tries to cope with suicidal wife's paralysis along with desire to get pregnant His wife's a big fan of Kurt CobainNirvana Trying to understand wife's obsession husband listens to some of their music and uips that he doesn't understand the song All Apologies in which Cobain never apologizes and doesn't even say what he did wrong And jokes to his wife after disrobing Here we are now entertain us from the song Smells Like Teen SpiritAdam Johnson seems to me the writer's euivalent to Disney's best imagineer In the Wonderful World of his Wizardry Adam Johnson was able to move me in ways that seem counterintuitive and for characters that I'd never have thought possible by the plight of a North Korean recently immigrated unwittingly to South Korea desperately longing to return home; a former warden of an East German prison wherein the Stasi committed atrocities who appears to be suffering dementia with psychological undertones; cringing while feeling sympathy for a pedophile who was abused as a child; being frustrated by a Louisiana alcoholicaddict a few months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita searching for his toddler's ne'er do well mom while being afflicted by a Bathsheba wanting to abandon the boy to go to CaliFinally the story Interesting Facts is narrated by a wife and mother who had a double mastectomy for breast cancer The story is one of the most crushing I've read in a while and it's neither mawkish nor manipulativeIt's too bad that the buying public doesn't purchase books of short stories Perhaps it's because most readers have so accepted the nice and tidy a perfectly formed beginning middle end And so they miss out on some of the most moving stories today packing as hefty an emotional punch in a much compact frame This is the second collection of short stories awarded the NBA in the past four yearsHighly recommended

  4. Matthew Quann Matthew Quann says:

    Sometimes I read a book so good I wonder what I'm going to say about it in my review In the case of Adam Johnson's Fortune Smiles I can only attempt to convey my absolute adoration and excitement at the writing horsepower packed into this collection Linking the characters over Johnson's six stories is a potent denial of their circumstances the choices that led them there or the realizations that might change their lives What makes each of these stories compelling is the ways in which these characters' world views are juxtaposed with the world around them In George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine a former Stasi prison warden is in florid denial of the crimes that took place within the walls of his prison as well as the collapse of his marriage By contrast the collection's most challenging story Dark Meadow sees a pedophile trying to reconcile his sexual urges with his self loathing while a sinister cloud hangs over his every meeting with a child Lest you think that all the stories are uniformly grim Johnson is also infinitely adept at turning a hopeless or disturbing scenario into dark comedy gold Hurricanes Anonymous handles a man who searches for his child's mother in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and pumps some genuinely hilarious moments in amidst scenery that would otherwise be deflating Interesting Facts details a woman's struggle with metastatic breast cancer and manages to be simultaneously melancholy and hilarious due to the narrator's voice The same story also delivers one of the most powerful slow twists of story that I've read in a long time that left me astonished shattered uplifted and delighted all at once These stories work on so many different levels that they feel constantly rewarding and compelling I was reminded of David Mitchell's ability to spin any genre voice time period or setting into a finely woven tapestry Much like Mitchell Johnson's stories feel entirely different from one another you might be in a slightly futuristic Silicon Valley only to venture to mid 00's Germany or New Orleans What's each of the characters and writing styles in this collection feel wholly their own and help establish a world with startling economyI've been reading a lot of short story collections this year this is my fourth but Fortune Smiles is likely my favourite so far Johnson's range on display is startling and his ability to view humanity's darkest corners with empathy is nothing short of a gift This comes highly recommended from me to any and all readers

  5. Iris P Iris P says:

    Fortune SmilesThis is a fantastic eclectic collection of six stand alone short stories by Pulitzer prize winner author Adam Johnson They are almost novella like in length so they run a little longer than your average short storyThe geographic settings span from post Katrina Louisiana to Berlin to North and South Korea These stories and these characters are dark controversial and morally complex There's a deep sense of pain and loss that runs through all of them but there's also a delightful wicked sense of humor that helps lighten the mood for the reader I found it very interesting that two of the stories George Orwell Was A Friend Of Mine and Fortune Smiles are set in Germany and the two Koreas Countries that although under very different circumstances ended up split in two blocks one pledging allegiance to a Democratic Capitalist type of government in the case of West Germany and South Korea and the two others becoming Marxist Totalitarian regimes in the case of East Germany and North KoreaHere's a summary of each storyNirvana Follows a computer programmer who invents a sort of projector that creates a very real three dimensional hologram The device lets grieving citizens interact with a recently assassinated president His wife who suffers from Guillain Barré syndrome a rare disease that have left her bedridden finds comfort in the music of Kurt Cobain Against her wishes he spends his free time talking to the hologram of the deceased president which is programmed to answer the user’s uestions and complaintsThere is a clear dystopian atmosphere on this story and I guess the metaphysical uestion the author explores is can technology be use to help people overcome pain and loss?Hurricane Anonymous Set in post Katrina New Orleans tells the story of Nonc a UPS driver who while dealing with both the region's devastation and his own personal chaotic life is trying to care of a 2 year old who may or may not be his legitimate son The mother is missing in action so Nonc is left to wander the FEMA camps delivering packages while at the same time planning his future with his current girlfriend and trying to find out what happened to the boy's motherInteresting Facts It's about a terminally ill woman who speculates on her husband and family's life after her death and grows increasingly angrier with what she imagines that'd look likeGeorge Orwell Was A Friend Of Mine It's for sure my favorite story on this collection The story takes place in 2008 in what used to be East Germany 18 years after the fall of the Berlin WallThe narrator is Hans Bäcker a former STASI prison administrator STASI was the secret German policy agency that operated before the country went through the reunification processThe former warden returns to the prison premises which is now a museum visited by former prisoners tourists and German studentsThe prison was used by the secret service to held prisoners where they were physically and psychologically tortured and kept under very inhumane conditions Their crime was trying to flee to West Germany through the Berlin Wall in search of freedom and a better lifeHans who is in complete denial about this past claims he had done nothing wrong he is a man who believes in order and stability who knows firsthand that without rules everything descends into chaos The death rate in the prison he claims was no higher than anywhere else No one he claims was ever tortured on his watchBut in this post unified Germany Hans is the object of scorn and his presence serves as a reminder of a very dark chapter in his country's history He's utterly baffled by this new reality and incapable of accepting responsibility for the role he played on itStill I thought Johnson left some room for sympathy for Hans is he to blame and to be considered part of the whole STASI establishment or just a bystander a man caught on the wrong side of history?The author also explores the issue of the ubiuitous presence of cell phones and technology in every aspect of our lives and how is affecting the way we think about privacy Adam Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist and short story writer Dark Meadow Written from the viewpoint of a pedophile struggling to suppress and cope with his instinctive urges this one is not doubt the most morally complex and controversial of these stories I suspect many readers will shy away from reading it I almost didn't finish it myself but at the end I am glad I didDark Meadow is the screen name of a reformed pedophile He has for the most part settle down to a uiet life in Los Angeles He loves gardening and has done to try to atone for his past sins by using his computer skills to expose other pedophiles to the authorities All the while he continues fighting his very dark urges As it happens the temptation is not far away when two vulnerable young girls that live across the street come asking for help They live with a neglectful mother who fails to see how perilous is their situationAlthough there's nothing remotely graphic or sexually explicit on this story I admit that reading it was at times stomach churning and very disturbing to say the leastFortune Smiles I recently read that the author spent seven years doing research for his 2012 Pulitzer prize winner novel The Orphan Master's Son That level of knowledge is obvious when you read the titled story Fortune SmilesIt features two North Korean defectors struggling and at times outright resisting to assimilate to their new lives in Seoul Several of the reviews I read mentioned that this story was not as powerful as some of the others I however was impressed by the author's ability to describe the shock culture you experienced as an immigrant especially if this happens when you are an adultConsidering the startling political cultural and economic differences between North and South Korea I thought the struggles the characters experienced rang very trueThe wide range of stories on Fortune Smiles are a testament to Johnson's fertile and original imagination and because they are not interconnected you can read one at a time without fear of losing track of the plot or the characters

  6. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    All this information I say Yet the world is mysterious than ever Adam Johnson Fortune Smiles Seriously these stories BREAK me Johnson pulls each story's string to the point of breaking and then plays them beautifully with precision and dexterity 'Interesting Facts' about crushed me so goodPause breatheBlown away by every single page and every story Seriously I might just have to put back on my white shirt and name badge from my 19 yo missionary days and go door to door evangelizing about Adam Johnson's book Have you read Adam Johnson? I know Adam Johnson is True A man get nearer to God by reading Adam Johnson's short stories than any other fiction writer save perhaps McCarthy Oh fine That is probably an exaggeration but still GOD these stories were amazing Scary even Like being transported to a foreign land and buried alive He captures the language of the other and once you get on his train there is no getting off OK Perhaps again I am exaggerating Perhaps I am caught up in a convert's euphoria But I'm not new to Adam Johnson I've read The Orphan Master's Son and loved that too

  7. Ron Charles Ron Charles says:

    The six stories in Adam Johnson’s new collection “Fortune Smiles” will worm into your mind and ruin your balance for a few days From ravaged American cities to abandoned torture chambers these pieces take place in an uncanny world you recognize but don’t They’re all cast in an unsettling twilight of moral struggle and each one is a miniature demonstration of why his remarkable novel “The Orphan Master’s Son” won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fictionIn fact the title story placed last in this collection returns to the setting of “The Orphan Master’s Son” Two recent defectors from North Korea DJ and Sun ho are struggling to assimilate in the opulence of Seoul Crooks raised in the gray horrors of the Dear Leader’s paradise they find the people and technology of their new home To read the rest of this review go to The Washington Posthttpwwwwashingtonpostcomenterta

  8. Elle (ellexamines) Elle (ellexamines) says:

    This review begins somewhat complementary and indeed is on the whole There is one story in this that is a garbage fire and a half George Orwell was a Friend of Mine is by far my favorite from this book it’s a story about the moral problems of bystanding and the ways in which collective memory can fail us I know some found Fortune Smiles less powerful but I appreciated its direct commentary on the problems of assimilation Both of these stories successfully convey the mundanity of living in an oppressive society and the cultural shock afterwards of realizing its global perception I appreciated that George Orwell fit multiple perspectives; Fortune Smiles does not uestion its narrative’s disdain for “the tv defectors” those who have experienced trauma and I enjoyed that the former story explored this contrast I unfortunately found the stories of both Nirvana and Hurricanes Anonymous to be on the lower end of enticing I read this book out of order with these two coming second and third after Fortune Smiles and found them each to be oddly lacking in contrast to what came before Nirvana explores romanticization of the past and technology’s impact on our grief; Hurricanes Anonymous focuses on a single father after Katrina and the repetition of old mistakes Johnson clearly does not enjoy emotionality in his narrators which works for stories like George Orwell; I felt this held the stories back here Perhaps as a result I came away feeling both of these stories were saying very little Each was interesting maybe even entertaining than impactful Hurricanes Anonymous specifically follows a specific trend of this collection the tendency to focus on the lives of those doing wrong with very little redemption or uestioning towards this Perhaps this is why I found the story that best subverted this trend and asked uestions of personal responsibility — George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine — to be my favorite Reviewer Emilypoints out I think correctly that the two stories in unfamiliar settings are ironically the human of the collection In contrast stories in familiar settings begin using wild gimmicks to distinguish themselves Strip the several fascinating premises of Nirvana away and you have very little Some of these stories to me feel cynical to a point where they cease to say anything A generational gap perhaps I have a very complicated array of thoughts towards Dark Meadow a story that deals with a reformed maybe pedophile who does not act on his feelings I was really expecting to hate it I instead have complex feelings on it It certainly asks complex uestions I think in general almost all of these stories step outside the realm of personal experience I don’t think this is inherently a bad thing but it’s worth commenting upon Were these stories the only stories of the collection I would probably have felt that though this collection was a mixed bag for me personally it was a good expression of talent However the story Interesting Facts genuinely disgusts me Imagine that you are diagnosed with breast cancer and have a double mastectomy Your husband reacts to this by writing a story in which you — and it’s very clearly you his wife not a hypothetical wife; the story’s husband even has a Pulitzer for writing about North Korea — envy other women with larger breasts before dying and coming back as a ghost to continue watching the women he may or may not be dating He adds in a subtext about himself having a fetish for Asian women — which is honestly uite disturbing considering he writes about North Korea — and for big breasts which is downright insulting as again you have just had a double mastectomy You’ve just undergone the trauma of breast cancer and this is how your husband was thinking about you as an already ghost stripped of agency desperate to get your breasts back Now imagine that instead of looking at this story as a misogynistic and hateful expression of trauma and putting it aside he publishes this story without removing any identification leaving in many humiliating details of the ordeal of breast cancer I think this as a situation is genuinely disturbing It made me very strongly wish this man had not received any of my money I think Adam Johnson is wonderfully good at writing I don’t think that as a society we should appreciate that he does so Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |

  9. Hannah Hannah says:

    As is often the case with short story collections this one was incredibly hard for me to rate because some stories were a lot better than others This collection was not uite what I expected the super dark nature surprised me Adam Johnson shows an incredible range in the stories he tells and in the characters he created The stories take place all over the world and one is even set in the future I personally prefered the stories set in the US to the ones set elsewhere; they just seemed authentic to me and the characters were fully fleshed out I have to admit to not even finishing the story set in East Germany it all seemed so stereotypical and so missing heart I could not connect with the main character in this story at all and he set my teeth on edge Weirdly enough this was not a problem I had with the paedophiliac character in another story and I have to admit that an author who makes me empathize with a person like him must be pretty brilliant My absolute favourite story of this collection is called Interesting Facts here Johnson does something so clever with the structure and the way he chooses his words that it made my jaw drop I have actually read this story twice already; absolutely wonderfully brilliant and poignant and so so sad but also hopeful and full of love for human connection

  10. Fabian Fabian says:

    An audaciousamazing story collection all six pearls are marvels Hehe Read whichever story and you will find yourself seriously satisfies All of them are supremely different only sly references between the stories remind us that a writer always has the satisfaction only gods can attain think the global humanism of early millennium Alex Garland who went on to become a significant sci fi director; Johnson also seems destined to write for a movie or tv show or both the directnesshearbrokenness of Jhumpa Lahiri the less austere version of Joyce Carol Oates The fifth story Dark Meadow is absolutely disturbing my absolute favorite of the bunchI cannot wait to get to The Orphan Master's Son a book lost in some forgotten stack back in El Paso I will certainly relish it I cannot wait

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