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as close as you can get to reality ...
am 28. Februar 2011
"Nothing to envy" tells the stories of 5-6 persons from North Korea who ended up escaping to the South. Barbara Demick interviewed people from one city in North Korea and was thereby able to check the narratives making it very likely that the accounts of the people interviewed are as factual as possible. I am very impressed by the approach: too often we go for the dramatic and emotionally touching effect rather than for intersubjectively agreed narratives (aka "the truth"). Demick also makes a point of mentioning that the people who had the courage to escape from a terrible regime were people who are singleminded and that just this singlemindedness can also pose a problem in South Korean (or any other) society: what is heroism in one context can be stubbornness and a resistance to fit in in another. Apart from these more philosophical learnings, I really appreciated how Demick tells the stories of her informants: respectfully, as truthfully as possible and emotionally compelling. When I read "Nothing to Envy", I had actually wanted to read on a train ride just for a bit after a long day of teaching and had already packed a few DVDs to watch in case I get tired of reading. I never stopped turning pages until I had finished "Nothing to Envy".