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Extended Audio Sample The Ginseng Hunter, by Jeff Talarigo Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (413 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeff Talarigo Narrator: Jaeson Ma Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2008 ISBN: 9781482977585
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Set at the turn of the twenty-first century in China along the Tumen River, which separates northeast China and North Korea, The Ginseng Hunter follows the daily life of a Chinese ginseng hunter, who lives alone in the valley, spending his days up in the mountains looking for ginseng and preparing for winter. He is little aware of the world outside until shadowy figures hiding in the fields, bodies floating in the river, and rumors of thievery and murder begin to intrude on his cherished solitude. On one of his monthly trips to Yanji where he buys supplies and visits a brothel, he meets a young North Korean prostitute. Through her vivid tales, the tragedy occurring across the river unfolds, and over the course of the year the hunter unnervingly discovers that the fate of the young woman and those of four others rest in his hands. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The beauty and power of the ginseng root; the respect of the hunter for the thing he hunts—all this lies in such sharp contrast to the wasted life and utter lack of humanity elsewhere on these pages.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Talarigo is well on his way toward establishing himself as a quiet witness to humanity…An expert at luring us out of our comfort zones to bear witness with him, he also gives us quiet heroes who do not give in, who do not give up. What we ultimately choose to do with both the devastation and the hope that we witness is up to us.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Talarigo’s tense, atmospheric second novel movingly dramatizes the human faces behind political oppression…Against a backdrop of stunning scenery and of cruelty, creating a memorable, morally stringent tale.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “By subtly relating the struggle of plant life on the forest floor to the human struggle at the border, Talarigo offers us a novel that is ultimately a study of survival under hostile conditions.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kim | 2/4/2014

    " This book was just depressing. It's about a Chinese ginseng hunter who lived on the border of China and North Korea. He witnesses some North Koreans sneaking into China and also encounters a North Korean prostitute. However, I didn't like the way Jeff Talarigo told the story -- it was very confusing to me. It was also difficult to relate to ANY of the characters in any way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 1/27/2014

    " This book is like a haiku. Simple and brilliant, with an ending that changes one's perspective on the work as a whole. No review can really do justice to Talarigo's tale of a ginseng hunter on the border between North Korea and China at the turn of the twenty-first century better than the book itself. A story to be savored. And other such-like hyperbole. Read it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 1/16/2014

    " This book is short (176 pgs)and an easy read. It is always eye-opening to me to read about other cultures and their hardships. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 1/10/2014

    " A beautiful, powerful and sad story. While you read the book you feel the Ginseng Hunter's solitude, and understand his oneness with nature. The pain of the woman whose company he seeks when he goes to sell his Ginseng is equally felt. It is a beautifully satisfying read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 12/28/2013

    " This novel takes place along the Chinese/Korean border. A look at a very different kind of life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hilary | 11/21/2013

    " Bleak, haunting, and depressing. I liked the spare style. Sometimes I was a little confused by who was speaking, possibly because I listened to the audio book instead of reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 11/12/2013

    " Interesting cultural read. Historical fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janice | 10/30/2013

    " certainly will read his first book - pearl diver! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynette | 10/20/2013

    " Interesting socio-political fiction, the relationship between individuals living on the boarder of China and North Korea. The boundaries of us/them blurred by the proximity of land, sometimes only divided by a river one can wade across. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharron | 10/2/2013

    " A moving and often chilling tale of one man's isolated existence on China's border with North Korea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 10/2/2013

    " With a brevity of words, it captures a universe of images... had to read it once I started and finished it in under a day. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 7/4/2013

    " Short little book set in the 1990's along the North Korea and China border. Great quick read. Gives great background on the terrible atrocities of the current North Korean regime. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 4/18/2013

    " A well written and engaging story about a Chinese ginseng hunter's role in the lives of sevaral North Koreans. This is a very quick read and well worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 3/6/2013

    " While there are significant moments in the history of the Korea, this is a story of the everyday lives of the human beings living under the political oppression. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 2/24/2013

    " This book was a quick read with interesting, descriptive writing -- it was as though you were walking behind the main character, feeling the soil and smelling the ginseng root, and feeling the sorrow of his life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy Hollister | 12/8/2012

    " An easy read and romantically written about the journey of a ginseng hunter in North Korea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Victoria | 12/7/2012

    " Lovely, quiet, and sad, about the lives around the North Korean & Chinese border. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ms. S........... | 8/1/2012

    " (see "the harvester" review) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan Krehel | 7/28/2012

    " Beautiful written, opens to reveal its humanity like a blossom. Such a cruel world "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Willi | 2/19/2012

    " A very short read, but interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth Conlin | 8/13/2011

    " interesting book about the relationship between a man and a woman on the border between China and North Korea in the present day. Ancient Chinese tradition collides with modern day dictatorship. V. interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christina | 7/21/2011

    " Loved it! There was a concubine moment but nothing I wouldn't recommend to my grandmother. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen | 6/25/2011

    " A sad but beautifully told story. I was glad that I had read the book Nothing to Envy because it confirmed the facts in this book about the recent famine in North Korea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 R.Joseph | 3/10/2011

    " Short, fast read! Well written story about life and how we all view it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 3/7/2011

    " captivating and a tenuous and delicious balance between the serene and constant world of nature and the absolute insanity of human cruelty and desperation "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/24/2011

    " Haunting. First novel I have read surrounding the Korean/Chinese/Russian border situation and personal politics. I want to know more about that region and culture. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 12/6/2010

    " Interesting cultural read. Historical fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie | 11/11/2010

    " A mixture of desolate writing & a mournful sounding narrator make for a dreary reading experience. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 10/21/2010

    " I wanted something under 200 pages to take on a recent plane flight and chose this book. Yes it was depressing but the truth often is. I was not aware of how people lived within the past several decades in North Korea. How disturbing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Patrick | 10/16/2010

    " Only OK because of the ginseng descriptions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 8/15/2010

    " While there are significant moments in the history of the Korea, this is a story of the everyday lives of the human beings living under the political oppression. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cat | 6/25/2010

    " Prose that reads more like poetry. Takes place on the China/North Korea border. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Callie | 4/26/2010

    " A small book that captures a lot of pain and beauty. Gave me nightmares, but for too many people it is their reality. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Willi | 4/8/2010

    " A very short read, but interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 3/3/2010

    " Gorgeous book. Simple, understated, and breathtakingly beautiful prose. I haven't read the author's first book, The Pearl Diver, but I plan to do so as soon as possible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brett | 1/15/2010

    " The two things that stand out most: very scenic, and very sad. Set on the border between China and North Korea, the story was mostly about recent political oppression in North Korea, dressed up in beautiful scenery. The book didn't really have an end, except to say that "life goes on." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 12/28/2009

    " Beautifully written, and sad. The prose was like poetry. Brief, but inspirational. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 12/14/2009

    " Lonely. Great descriptions. Misunderstood is just simple humanity. "

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