Tuesday, January 21, 2014

reading notes: Escape from Camp 14 (North Korea) + Kidnapped (Peru)

that’s at least one of the upsides of having a cold: i read a lot in the last days, and strangely, mostly books with difficult or painful topics. here are my current reading notes:

Escape from Camp 14 (North Korea)
The full title of the book is "One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West". Starting to read the book brought back the memories of visiting an exhibition on North Korea I visited in Vienna, and the feeling of both surreality and recent European past: to think that there are countries that keep their own citizens locked up and isolated.  

The official book description is: "In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk's life and remarkable escape, and offers an inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival." The book is a report on Shin Dong-hyuk's life in prison and his escape, based on several interviews. I wished there had been a bit more background on North Korea, the society and the normal life outside camps. And like when visitig the exhibition, I wondered how my own life would have looked like if I would have been born in a country like North Korea (or like East Germany, back then). Very different, that's for sure.

Entführt - Kidnapped
The other book is from Peru - it's a new graphic novel that is based on a true story, it even has police reports of the case included. The book starts with an “express kidnapping”: a woman who takes a taxi to her university is finding herself at gunpoint, asked for her credit card and the number. She hopes to be set free after the kidnappers get the cash, but there isn't enough money in the account for the kidnappers, and so they decide to kidnap her for real. The book shows the different perspectives, moving from the woman to her parents, to the kidnappers, and back to her. At some point, the woman realizes that she knows one of the kidnappers, that he is a distant relative, and it turns out he helped to organize the initial "express" kidnapping, as he was jealous of her and her family.   

Unfortunately, the book isn't available in English so far. But reading it made me think of a short story on the same theme, set in Haiti: "Things I Know About Fairy Tales" by Roxane Gay. - Here's a quote that also could be from the Peru book:  "I couldn’t take it personally, being kidnapped. That is what I told myself. It was a business transaction, one that would require intense negotiation and eventually, compromise."   


Currently Reading + More Reads:
In contrast to the rather dramatic and discomforting books, I also returned to a stunning collection of texts: "What Book!? - Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop". I came across it last year, and it's a book i am sure to revsit time and again. And of course, not all is sunshine in these texts, either.
Here's the original reading note: What Book!? Buddha Poems

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with books

A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

& Other book blog and their current reads: It's Monday! What Are You Reading? link list

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