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Barbara Demick's account of North Korea takes Samuel Johnson Prize

2nd July 2010

Barbara Demick has won the 2010 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction with Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea.

In the book, Los Angeles Times journalist Demick tells the story of six ordinary people living in Chongin in North Korea and their struggle to get by under the country's oppressive regime.

Radio 4 Today presenter Evan Davis, chair of the judging panel, commented: 'It is the personal detail in Nothing to Envy that makes it both gripping and moving. Nowhere will you find a better account of real life in North Korea.'

In winning the GBP 20,000 prize, Demick triumphed over a shortlist that included Blood Knots by Luke Jennings, Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail and Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos.

A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow and Richard Wrangham's Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human were the other titles competing for the honour.

Commenting on the shortlist in May, Davis said it was an 'extraordinarily eclectic' selection of works, with 'passion and sheer enthusiasm' for their subjects being the only common feature among their writers.

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