Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
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 into this most secretive of countries.
Bandi’s profound, deeply moving, vividly characterized 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 theatre that is 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 who seek to suppress it.
I first heard about this book and the story around its eventual publication on The Guardian (see article). I was immediately intrigued–there’s no fiction coming out of this country, let alone dissent literature from a writer still living in said country, so after reading the article I immediately pre-ordered a copy for myself to check out.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel
By: Sun-mi Hwang [Chi-Young Kim (Translation), Nomoco (Illustrations)]
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtsey of Penguin Books via NetGalley
The 2-million-copy bestselling modern fable from Korea that is winning hearts around the world
This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild—and to hatch an egg of her own. An anthem for individuality and motherhood, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly has captivated millions of readers in Korea, where it is a contemporary classic. Now the novel is making its way around the world, where it has the potential to inspire generations of readers the way Jonathan Livingston Seagull or The Alchemist have. And with Nomoco’s evocative illustrations throughout, this first English-language edition beautifully captures the journey of an unforgettable character in world literature.
I think it was the book cover that caught my attention while I was browsing through NetGalley. The premise sounded interesting and whimsical and I don’t think I’ve read much Korean literature, if at all, so I was very happy when I found out that I was approved of a copy to read in return for an honest review of the novel.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly was a light, easy and accessible read. It reads like a fairy tale that is rich in themes but also populated with solid characters like Sprout and Greentop. It feels magical (and vaguely reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm) with the talking animals and the wonders of nature, of growing up, of life in general. Sure, it’s a fable about animals but there’s a lot of themes in this novel that the reader can relate to: of individuality, of fulfilling your dreams and fighting for what you believe in and for survival, of motherhood and belonging. I really felt for Sprout as she fought hard for what she wanted and what she believed in and was constantly put down by the other animals.
I don’t know what else I could really say about this story–it’s relatively short to begin with so I don’t want to risk spoiling a bit of it–but suffice to say it was wonderful and heartbreaking and thoughtful. The illustrations by Nomoco were also wonderful and reflects the story quite nicely. I highly recommend this novel.
Learn more about the author from from Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository