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The Boy Who Escaped Paradise

Cover of The Boy Who Escaped Paradise

The Boy Who Escaped Paradise

A Novel
by J. M. Lee
Borrow Borrow

An astonishing story of the mysteries dividing truth and deception that follows the odyssey of Ahn Gil­mo, a young autistic math genius, as he escapes from the most isolated country in the world and searches for the only family he has left.

An unidentified body is discovered in New York City, with numbers and symbols are written in blood near the corpse. Gil­mo, a North Korean national who interprets the world through numbers, formulas, and mathematical theories, is arrested on the spot. Angela, CIA operative, is assigned to gain his trust and access his unique thought-process.

The enigmatic Gil­mo used to have a quite life back in Pyongyang. But when his father, a preeminent doctor is discovered to be a secret Christian, he is subsequently incarcerated along with Gilmo, in a political prison overseen by a harsh, cruel warden.

There, he meets the spirited Yeong-ae, who becomes his only friend. When Yeong-­ae manages to escape, Gil­mo flees to track her down. He uses his peculiar gifts to navigate betrayal and the criminal underworld of east Asia—a world wholly alien to everything he's ever known.

In The Boy Who Escaped Paradise, celebrated author J. M. Lee delves into a hidden world filled with vivid characters trapped by ideology, greed, and despair. Gil­mo's saga forces the reader to question the line between good and evil, truth and falsehood, captivity and freedom.

An astonishing story of the mysteries dividing truth and deception that follows the odyssey of Ahn Gil­mo, a young autistic math genius, as he escapes from the most isolated country in the world and searches for the only family he has left.

An unidentified body is discovered in New York City, with numbers and symbols are written in blood near the corpse. Gil­mo, a North Korean national who interprets the world through numbers, formulas, and mathematical theories, is arrested on the spot. Angela, CIA operative, is assigned to gain his trust and access his unique thought-process.

The enigmatic Gil­mo used to have a quite life back in Pyongyang. But when his father, a preeminent doctor is discovered to be a secret Christian, he is subsequently incarcerated along with Gilmo, in a political prison overseen by a harsh, cruel warden.

There, he meets the spirited Yeong-ae, who becomes his only friend. When Yeong-­ae manages to escape, Gil­mo flees to track her down. He uses his peculiar gifts to navigate betrayal and the criminal underworld of east Asia—a world wholly alien to everything he's ever known.

In The Boy Who Escaped Paradise, celebrated author J. M. Lee delves into a hidden world filled with vivid characters trapped by ideology, greed, and despair. Gil­mo's saga forces the reader to question the line between good and evil, truth and falsehood, captivity and freedom.

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About the Author-
  • J. M. Lee has sold hundreds of thousands of books in his native Korea. One, Deep Rooted Tree, was made into a popular T.V. series. He is the author of The Investigation, also published by Pegasus Books.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 26, 2016
    Lee (The Investigation) begins this novel of lies and truths with a news story and a mystery: the body of a former North Korean citizen is found in Queens, N.Y., with mysterious numbers etched in blood around the body, and Gil-Mo, a mathematically gifted immigrant from North Korea, is arrested for the crime. Gil-Mo is unable to remember whether he did the murder, or how he arrived at the crime scene. Although he is reluctant to talk, he opens up to Angela Stowe, a CIA operative posing as the attending nurse. As a child in North Korea, he was a math prodigy before being sent to a prison camp with his father, where he falls in love, uses his mathematical skills to get close to a fearsome warden, and eventually escapes. Lee’s novel deals not only with mathematical truths and whether they can be manipulated, but also with the deceptions and connections of languages: “A beautiful thing in one language became something tragic in another.” Gil-Mo uses math to maintain his connection to the larger world while his own culture slowly dissipates. “The disappearance of our language means that a world, an entire universe, is vanishing.” Lee’s brilliant narrator is, paradoxically both unreliable and incapable of twisting the truth; despite a sometimes-halting pace, the novel is a smart, riveting read.

  • Kirkus Reviews A North Korean whiz kid tries for a slice of the happiness pie, and complications ensue.
  • Shelf Awareness A reminder of the power of numbers, but one doesn't need to be a math fan to appreciate the brilliance of this work. The language is mesmerizing. An exciting adventure added to rich characters, all multiplied by stunning language, equals an unforgettable novel.
  • Library Journal (starred review) A haunting journey through the eyes of a young man with Asperger syndrome. Lee's novel touches on the literary need for character-driven stories that move beyond the strangeness and horror of life under the North Korean state. This, along with its thriller-like pace, make The Boy Who Escaped Paradise worth a read.
  • Publishers Weekly Lee creates a dignified and moving portrait of North Koreans' struggle for freedom at home and abroad, and intertwines it with a rogue genius adventure—all without sacrificing the appeal of either plot line. Another outstanding thriller from Lee (after The Investigation, 2015), whose novels have garnered massive acclaim in Korea.
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    Pegasus Books
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The Boy Who Escaped Paradise
The Boy Who Escaped Paradise
A Novel
J. M. Lee
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