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Nothing to Envy Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy Real Lives in North Korea

The Real World   All Shortlists and Winners   
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Shortlisted for the prestigious U.S. National Book Award 2010.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2010.

Evan Davis, chair of the judges and presenter of Radio 4 Today, announced the winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction at the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), London. He comments: “It is the personal detail in Nothing to Envy that makes it both gripping and moving. Nowhere will you find a better account of real life in North Korea, a society that is all too easily comically typecast by massive parades of co-ordinated flag-wavers. I think we knew this book had something when we found ourselves reading it out loud to spouses and partners. And it is a real testament to Demick’s writing, that a book on such a grim topic can be so hard to put down.”

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. North Korea is probably the world’s most benighted country, where Western novels are regarded as subversive, where the Internet is seen as demonic, and where the people are required to hold pro-government demonstrations and face imprisonment if they are not enthusiastic enough. At the same time they are dying of starvation and have every aspect of their lives regulated. Journalist Barbara Demick recounts the stories of six residents of Chongin, the country’s third-largest city, revealing the harrowing details of their lives and crushed hopes. Granta Books is renowned for its groundbreaking journalism and Demick’s account maintains that record.
~ Carl Hughes


Nothing to Envy Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy weaves together the stories of adversity and resilience of six residents of Chongin, North Korea's third largest city. Two lovers, who dated secretly for a decade, feared to criticise the regime to each other. A loyal factory worker watched her husband and son die of starvation before escaping the country. In telling the stories of Chongin's residents. she has recreated the lifestyles of North Korean citizens from their interests and concerns to their culture.

About the Author

Barbara Demick

Barbara Demick has been interviewing North Koreans about their lives since 2001, when she moved to Seoul for the Los Angeles Times. Her reporting on North Korea won the Overseas Press Club award for human rights reporting, the Asia Society’s Osborne Eliott award and the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Award.

Before joining the Los Angeles Times, she was with the Philadelphia Inquirer as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. She lived in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia and wrote a book about daily life, Logavina Street: Life and Death in Sarajevo Neighborhood. Her Sarajevo reporting won the George Polk Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer.

Demick grew up in Ridgewood, N.J. She is currently the Los Angeles Times’ bureau chief in Beijing.

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Book Info

Publication date

8th July 2010


Barbara Demick

More books by Barbara Demick
Author 'Like for Like'


Granta Books


314 pages


The Real World
All Shortlists and Winners

Political oppression & persecution
Human rights
Reportage & collected journalism



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