Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is one of the best books I have read this past year. Although a little over a year old now, it is well worth spotlighting. The title was a National Book Award Nominee for non-fiction in 2010.

The country of North Korea, sometimes called “The Hermit Kingdom”, seems like another world. When journalists are allowed access into the country, they are only shown what the government wants them to see, not the real problems of the failed communist regime. The reality for most citizens is that there is little food, little to no electricity and little knowledge of the "outside world." Journalist Barbara Demick knew she was not going to get a real story from visiting North Korea, and instead interviewed six North Korean defectors that risked arrest and imprisonment to leave. Their stories are amazing and also heartbreaking. They are survivors. Told in a narrative style, what makes the book so captivating is that you are enveloped in the detail of “everyday lives” – stories that the North Korean government would rather not have you hear. Highly recommended. You can also click here to listen to Demick's original interview on NPR.