First, it's a good book, but I was left wondering why it won a Pulitzer. The other reviews, before mine, are accurate in description of the plot so I won't repeat it takes place in North Korea, etc. As much as the story notes the N. Korean regime accusing the USA of being a propaganda machine and terror to the world, this book seems almost like propaganda. Maybe it's accurate; no way to know. I think a short preface to the book would be helpful to state the details of brutality, hunger and poverty are accurate or exaggerated, like is often done on TV and the movies.
As an author, I keep pen and paper with me as I read to write great words or phrases to borrow (this is often done; not plagiarism). I only wrote two things from this book. I enjoyed reading the book, but sometimes/often had to re-read because of jumps in the story between reality and hallucinations. I think there's a believability issue when a common N. Korean citizen is allowed on a diplomatic/political mission to visit a senator from Texas, and the same common citizen (an orphan of sorts, an insult and lower class status) ends up associating with the leader of N. Korea.
When I read Alan Chin's "A Lonely War" a few years ago I wrote four pages of useful, sometimes awesome, words and phrases that have enhanced my writing. I've re-read Mr. Chin's book and intend to buy more of his works. Note: He's not a friend or relative, he is just a great writer and I think "The Lonely War" would be better than this book I'm reviewing. Just my opinion. I pride myself on being fair and honest.