Bandi, Deborah Smith
In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung’s totalitarian regime. Smuggled out of North Korea and set for publication around the world in 2017, The Accusation provides a unique and shocking window on this most secretive of countries.
Bandi’s profound, deeply moving, vividly characterised stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the absurd theatre of their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare.
The Accusation is a heartbreaking portrayal of the realities of life in North Korea. It is also a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances – and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those seek to suppress it.
Spare, direct, unflinching and bitterly angry ... Bandi's characters struggle to live with love, humour and humanity while conforming to the demands of the regime, but are undone by the impossibility of the proposition, by the routine injustice, corruption and cruelties endemic in the system * Observer * A cross between parable and absurdist fiction ... yet Bandi [presents] a world in which North Koreans are nuanced: broken-hearted, idealistic, still full of life * Times Literary Supplement * Fascinating and chilling. Heartfelt and heartbreaking -- Margaret Atwood Courageous and confounding ... It's a quiet privilege to be given access to the voiceless by listening to such vivid and uncompromised storytelling ... this collection of stories seems both a flickering light in North Korea's darkness and an unintentional reminder that it is getting darker here, too. * New Statesman * An extraordinary story of people in North Korea ... highly readable, nuanced and credible -- Stephen Evans, BBC South Korea Correspondent * BBC World Service * If poetry, as Wordsworth said, can be glossed as powerful emotion recollected in tranquillity, The Accusation reads like powerful emotion felt right now, in a condition of ongoing crisis ... In its scope and courage, The Accusation is an act of great love. -- RO Rwon * Guardian * What's especially satisfying about this collection is that its worth goes well beyond the political or historical. Without melodrama or hyperbole, Bandi places us in a parallel universe of oppressive ritual, military-style code words and bizarre restrictions ... it reads like an Orwellian dystopia, Bandi tears at the heart with simple illustrations of the tenderness between husband and wife, parent and child, and a people who gaze at the larks swooping and soaring above them and marvel at their freedom. -- Jane Graham * The Big Issue * Revealing the terrible truth of living in a country where any freedoms are curtailed, where famine and brutality are rife, but where human belief and hope can survive any odds, this is a defining read for 2017. * Emerald Street * The Solzhenitsyn of Pyongyang ... A luminous testimony, crammed with irony, on the insane regime of Kim Il-Sung and the hopelessness of the citizens of North Korea * L'Express * Even if one did not know anything about the writer or the way the manuscript was smuggled out of the country, it would not diminish the fact that the force of this collection of novellas evokes the classics of world literature about totalitarianism * L'ours *
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