Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Fortune Smiles

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 world.In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters...

Details Fortune Smiles

TitleFortune Smiles
Release DateAug 27th, 2015
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Reviews Fortune Smiles

  • Glenn Sumi
    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;...
  • Perry
    Here we are, now entertain us....Hello, 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, stories.In the story "Nirvana," set in the near future, husband tries to cope with suicidal wife's paralysis alo...
  • Iris P
    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 story.The 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 run...
  • Matthew Quann
    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 t...
  • Darwin8u
    "All this information," I say. "Yet the world is more mysterious than ever." - Adam Johnson, Fortune SmilesSeriously, 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 good[Pause, breathe]Blown away by every single page and every story. Seriously, I might just have to put back on my white shirt and name badge f...
  • Ron Charles
    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 Pul...
  • Hannah
    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 quite 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 th...
  • Julie Christine
    "The truth is, though, that you don't need to die to know what it's like to be a ghost." So observes a woman dying of cancer in the story Interesting Facts, a bitter meditation on the life that will continue after she is gone. Fortune Smiles is haunted by ghosts, nearly all of whom are still alive, but walking shadows, poor players, strutting and fretting their hours upon the stage. Some are victims: the aforementioned cancer patient, and another...
  • Diane S ☔
    Short stories seem to have once again surged in popularity, if one is to go by the many that have been published this year. Seems more and more novelists are either turning or returning to this form. I have never read Johnson's novel so this is my first experience with his writing and it was a successful one. Some of these stories were exceptional, but there really wasn't one I didn't like.The themes of technology and imprisonment are a common th...
  • Fabian
    An audacious,amazing 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...
  • Peter Boyle
    I love nothing more than a good short story, so when I spied the award-winning Fortune Smiles in my local bookshop (the wonderful Hodges Figgis in case you are curious), I was rubbing my hands in glee. However this is a curate's egg of a collection: at its best it's extraordinary, at its worst it's completely forgettable.Of the six stories included, only two made any kind of impression on me. But they are both stunning. The first is a chilling ac...
  • Dianne
    This is a truly masterful collection of six short stories. 5 of the 6 are longer in length, so they are actually more novellas than short stories.The stories range from two North Korean defectors trying to make new lives in South Korea; a pedophile grappling with his past and trying to overcome his dark urges; a young mother with breast cancer coming to terms with her fate; a UPS deliveryman in post-Katrina New Orleans who is simultaneously deali...
  • Erika
    These six amazing stories are all about people disoriented and in pain from a life changing event. It could be illness, a hurricane, or the defection to another country, but whatever has happened to them, the different ways in which they respond brilliantly illuminates the world and who they are in it. One of my favorite pieces opens with the confusing sentence: “Interesting fact: Toucan cereal bedspread to my plunge and liver.” About half wa...
  • Maxwell
    I prefer reading short story collections that share an overarching theme to tie them together. With this collection, they all felt quite disparate which made it hard for me to feel fully invested in them. Though his writing is good, I wasn't compelled by many of the stories. Nothing super memorable here to me, but not the worst collection I've ever read.
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    I felt like I was walking in slow motion, treading water, navigating quicksand, on my way to read this book. I just couldn't get a copy in my hands! And then it won the National Book Award and I missed everything. Except I still had the pleasure of reading it during my slowest week of the year (with more time for reading!) I was shocked when a book of short stories won the award, knocking out my favorite to win (A Little Life.) I almost wish lite...
  • Paula Kalin
    Terrific. Disturbing. Thoughts that no one would say out loud. Understandable why these short stories won the National Book Award. Interesting Facts, about breast cancer, is the best in the lot. Unforgettable.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Meike
    Adam Johnson has an incredible gift when it comes to describing the darkest, most twisted thoughts and impulses of humankind, and in "Fortune Smiles", he displays it in six highly unsettling stories full of haunting imagery. To really appreciate all of his ideas, it takes a patient and alert reader, and while I wouldn't claim that engaging with these stories is fun (in these cases, it's not supposed to be), I was extremely impressed by Mr. Johnso...
  • Larry H
    Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to Random House for making it available!Adam Johnson is a tremendously talented writer, with a unique and creative voice. Interestingly enough, while I couldn't get into his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Orphan Master's Son , I enjoyed his previous short story collection, Emporium , so I had high hopes for his newest colle...
  • Bianca
    I should probably let this great book simmer for a little while and then write the review, but that's not my style - I have to get it done as soon as I finish, otherwise I get distracted and never do it.This has been easily the best collection of short stories I've read in the past year. I almost considered not requesting and looking up short stories, as the ones I read in 2015 weren't that satisfying. "Fortune Smiles" is definitely on another le...
  • Laysee
    "Fortune Smiles" is a collection of six brilliantly crafted and imaginative stories. Little wonder it is the winner of the 2015 National Book Award for fiction and the 2016 winner of the Story Prize. The stories take the reader to diverse locales - Palo Alto, Louisiana, and Los Angeles in the U.S., East Germany, and South Korea - but they all pulsate with the tribulations and pain universally experienced. They revolve around dislocated lives and ...
  • Sofia
    What does not kill you makes you stronger. Well strong enough to limp your way to the end like Sin-ho or breath by breath like Dark Meadow or seeking solace from holograms or clinging to interesting facts rather than drowning in pain and loss or by numbing ourselves with denial.This was a tough read but so so beautiful in giving us bits of people challenged by adversity and we see the human spirit fighting to survive in any which way possible, ju...
  • Mel
    If I knew the sound your heart makes when it is pierced and wrung out, I would type those letters here, or if there was only an emoji -- it would be so much easier because sometimes words just aren't enough. The stories here just killed me; they turned me inside out; they made me want to dig my fingernails into my palms and cry out loud -- then read more; because this book defines that green flash moment, that explosion of something brilliant whe...
  • Lark Benobi
    To me, reading this collection was something like realizing I have accidentally thrown my grandmother's heirloom one-of-a-kind diamond ring in the trash, and it's already gone to the dump, and so I go after it and dig for a few hours through smelly refuse, before giving up.
  • Rob Slaven
    I received this book free for review from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than the typical vacuous 5-star reviews.This book is comprised of six very dark but very different stories. The protagonists range from child pornographer to North Korean defector ...
  • Jill
    This new collection of six short stories might as well have been called “Fortune Smirks” for the simple reason that it does. Adam Johnson’s characters are all tragic – a software engineer whose wife is suffering from Gillian-Barre syndrome, a former warden of an East Germany Stasi prison, a down-and-out man and his young son in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a woman staving off cancer, a pedophile, two North Korean defector...
  • KatieMc
    An eclectic mix of short stories all having intersecting themes of escape, fear, loss and nostalgia. I've never been much of a short story lover, but this book makes me think that I just haven't read many really good ones. The author seems to have the craft down perfectly, with just the right amount of character, tension and imagery. And he knows just when and how bring it to climax. Each story had strength on its own, but as a curated collection...
  • Brian
    Six beautifully written short fiction pieces covering an array of topics and themes. "Interesting Facts" is a deeply personal story that had me scouring all online sources for answers to its verisimilitude; it has enough honesty in its fiction to create teeth-grinding discomfort in its intimacy. "George Orwell was a friend of mine" was my personal favorite of the stories and makes me want to read more fiction told from the viewpoint of former Eas...
  • Donna
    This was a well written collection of six short stories by an author who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for his novel, The Orphan Master's Son, which I haven't read. But if it's anything like these short stories in tone, I don't know that I'd want to put myself through it because, in a word, these stories are dark. Make sure you bring a flashlight to read them. I definitely wouldn't describe them as "typically comic and tender, absurd and totally...
  • Leo Robertson
    Adam Johnson:- Brings to life political issues with living characters.- Goes there with just enough humour for the journey, but not more.- Definitely writes at night, given these stories' clear and muted tone.- Is a Chekhov disciple, so don't expect clean endings.- May have made me give a shit about 1984 again (and said more about it than 'It's fuckin' now, man.')- Gave us a very necessary and humane story about a paedophile, which means that the...
  • Maya
    He says you can defuse a bomb in the real world, but the bomb in your head, that’s forever.*Six stories about people living with grief, denial, fear of one’s dark side, nostalgia and inability to adapt. All told with great insight and a perfectly balanced mix of quiet subtlety, directness and humor. Loved.*quote taken from Dark Meadow.Buddy read with Sofia – Feb 2016.