Title: A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape From North Korea
Author: Masaji Ishikawa
Publisher: Amazon Crossing 2018
Rating: 2/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Monthly Motif - Governments; Modern Mrs. Darcy - Outside of My Genre Comfort Zone; Alphabet Soup - I
Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.
In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.
Very disappointed in this book. It was our Girly Book Club selection for March. I wasn’t expecting a fun and light read, but was really not in the mood for a super dark and depressing memoir. I struggled to find much light in the book. And most of the information about conditions in North Korea I have read about through news investigations. I felt very sorry for what the author went through to strived and ultimately get out of the situation, but I didn’t couldn’t connect to any in the book. And the writing style really bugged me. I understand that this one has been translated, but I just couldn’t move beyond the simplistic writing. I compare a book like this to Elie Wiesel’s work and really found it lacking. Definitely not for me.
Next up on the TBR pile: