Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi and Deborah Smith: A Review

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The Accusation is a very unique set of short stories because they were written by an actual citizen living in North Korea and smuggled out of the country.  As explained in the afterword of the book, Bandi works for a writing group in North Korea and wrote these stories in his spare time over many years.  When one of his relatives leaves the country, Bandi uses the opportunity to sneak the manuscript to South Korea so that the rest of the world will be able to understand his experiences.  The Accusation is the first manuscript by a North Korean still living in North Korea that criticizes the North Korean government.  Understandably, Bandi has chosen to remain anonymous, likely for his safety, and Bandi is a pseudonym meaning "firefly". The very courage that this writer has demonstrated in writing these stories, often which criticize the communist government, and the courage of Bandi's relative in bringing the stories to light is inspiring.  The stories show citizens who sacrifice food and their bodies for their husbands and others who are loyal party members except for the fact that their son is frightened of an image of Karl Marx after he associates the picture with a childhood demon.  All people who live under North Korean socialism are brought up to learn how to act in order to survive and reporters write about factory productions before they have even occurred at the direction of party leaders.

Deborah Smith did a wonderful job with this translation.  It reads very smoothly and quickly.  The stories written by Bandi are magnificent.  They exhibit the terrible nature of a totalitarianism but do so while also including the stories of every day citizens.  The personal is not sacrificed amidst the terrible consequences of an unfair and nonsensical government and the humanity of the characters is stressed.  I really enjoyed reading this book and believe that it is immensely important.  I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for stories about a totalitarian government that are also readable and enjoyable.

Reviews of Books Like This One:
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Patriots by Sana Krasikov
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

This book was released today and can be purchased at booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Read other reader's accounts of this book on Goodreads

 I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in order to review it but that did not have an effect on my review of the book.  This is my honest opinion of this book.  I am a participant in the Amazon Affiliates program.  By clicking on the Amazon link and purchasing this product, I receive a small fee.  I am not associated with Goodreads or Barnes and Noble in any way and the links provided are available strictly for your convenience and not to imply a relationship of any kind. 

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