Defector’s Story Rises

9780007554850_026eaThe Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee and David John (HC/William Collins; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) published in 2015 got a sudden boost on Amazon’s sales from a FOX news feature headlined “North Korea defector hails Trump’s tough stance on hostile country.” It is also building a holds list at most libraries we checked.

In 2015 the NYT Book Review included the memoir in a “The Shortlist” feature on North Korean defection books, but did not rate it as highly as other titles, citing an “emptiness at the heart of her story.” StarTribune was more positive, saying “Lee shows the terrible treatment of its people by North Korea’s authoritarian dictatorship. She also shows the price the regime pays for being awful: the loss of people like her who have enormous drive, intelligence and will.” Kirkus summed it up as “Remarkable bravery fluently recounted.”

The British press were more generous. The BBC said, “First-hand accounts of perilous defections from brutal dictatorships aren’t supposed to be funny. But Hyeonseo Lee’s pioneering memoir The Girl With Seven Names contains great humour alongside its shocking evocation of the North Korean regime’s surveillance, torture, privation and propaganda.” The Scotsman wrote “This is a stirring and brave story.” The Guardian featured a long excerpt with photos.

Her TED Talk was hailed by Oprah in O magazine as “The most riveting TED Talk ever.”

Comments are closed.