Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

My aunt and I love to give book recommendations to each other, and she kept telling me I should read the book Nothing to Envy. So I finally picked it up and I’m glad I did because it gave me some small insight to the very secretive world of North Korea.

The author, Barbara Demick, follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years, including when Kim Il-sung dies and the famine that kills 1/5 of the population. She shows their everyday life, from working jobs where they don’t get paid, to scrounging for any scrap of food they can find, and from falling in love to getting sent to prison camps. Since she is interviewing these people after they have defected, we are able to witness how each one encounters the disillusionment needed in order to decide to try and leave the only country they have ever known.

I’ve always enjoyed learning about different countries and cultures, and while I’ve read a few books about North Korea, I definitely learned a lot from this one, because it spanned over fifteen years and featured normal people. I definitely recommend reading this book if you are interested in how the normal North Korean citizen lives.

Available through the Bridges Library System

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