Dernick wins £20k Samuel Johnson prize
01.07.10 | Katie Allen

Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Dernick’s “brave” exploration of North Korea has won the £20,000 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2010.

Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea (Granta) follows the stories of six North Korean citizens living in the totalitarian country. Dernick was announced the winner in a ceremony this evening (1st July).

“It is the personal detail in Nothing to Envy that makes it both gripping and moving.” Said Evan Davis, chair of the judges and presenter of Radio 4 “Today”. “I think we knew this book had something when we found ourselves reading it out loud to spouses and partners.

“And it is a real testament to Demick’s writing, that a book on such a grim topic can be so hard to put down.”

Jonathan Ruppin of Foyles said “It’s a brave piece of reportage which highlights both our common human feelings and the diversity of human experience.”

Dernick’s title beat competition from a five-strong shortlist including Jenny Uglow and Alex Bellos. Each of the shortlisted authors received £1,000 each.

BBC2 will broadcast a “Culture Show” special on the awards at 11.20pm tonight (1st July).

The shortlist in full:

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury)
Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (Granta)
Blood Knots by Luke Jennings (Atlantic)
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin (Allen Lane)
A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow (Faber)
Catching Fire: How Cooking made us Human by Richard Wrangham (Profile)

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