THE ACCUSATION by Bandi, Allen & Unwin.
In the “fathomless darkness” of North Korea is a courageous writer, a man who calls himself Bandi, meaning “firefly”. He secretly wrote these stories in the final six years of the rule of Kim Il-sung, and smuggled them out to expose the corruption, cruelty and absurdity of life under the dictatorship. His prose is fearless and vivid. When a cuckoo crows, it cries out “as if choking on a clot of blood”. One story examines the farcical mourning of the death of Kim Il-sung. Agents monitor visits and grief levels at hundreds of altars commemorating the Dear Leader. Even three months on when “every flower bed in the city has been stripped bare” and people are starving for lack of rations, they’re so scared they venture far afield during the monsoon to hunt for offerings. It’s a poignant peek into the tyranny of totalitarianism.