Billed as the first fiction out of North Korea, The Accusation is the first book to come from a writer still living under the regime. The stories told are heartrendingly simple stories that reflect on the duplicity and awful ironies North Koreans must encounter every day. One story tells of a woman who uses contraceptives to prevent pregnancy because she realizes just how hard the system is on young children who are forced atone the “sins” of their parents; she can’t bear to bring a child into a country that treats its youth with such harshness as experienced by her husband and young nephew. In other stories, we learn how deceit is rewarded and authenticity of self is suspicious. We learn how hard work and courage can be twisted into vainglorious selfishness.
In a country that excessively safeguards and monitors the story of itself and its people, storytellers such as Bandi are crucial to allow revolt and reform to take root.
The Accusation is an important book for us to read to understand a culture and political climate so foreign to our own. Not only that, it’s a work of great literary force, with parables that will stay with you after you close the book.
A note on my copy: I received a free copy at Booknet’s Tech Forum this March, as part of a Loan Stars promotion. (Haven’t heard of either initiative? Two of my favourite things and encourage anyone in publishing to check out the links if you haven’t!)
The Accusation by Bandi, published by Anansi, 2017