Author: Anjaly Thomas
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Cover : 2/5
Title : 2/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Theme : 3.5/5
Characters : 3/5
Overall : 3/5
Lawyer turned travel writer Anjaly Thomas takes a solo journey through the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the guise of a kindergarten This book examines the people and culture of North Korea “To be able to learn real life lessons is far greater than reading the stories one finds between the pages of a school book” Anjaly Thomas The uniqueness of the book lies in the simplicity of narration and the author’s real life experiences as she goes about her solo journeys around the world. These journeys do not dwell on destinations, but life moments which define the purpose of travel and create the richness of experience, leading her to a completeness not experienced by any other form of entertainment. Be it freezing in the cold in Turkey, capitalizing on the kindness of strangers in Mongolia, redefining the limits of individual freedom in the iron-regime of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or whether it is about learning to give, take or being humble or, most importantly, whether it is about being able to shed prejudices and being able to adapt and accept change the author’s journeys to random countries around the world will take the reader to a new level of understanding travel. It will instill a sense of responsibility and the importance of being a part of the world we live in.”
There Are No Gods in North Korea by Anjaly Thomas is a travel narrative of her experiences. Wanderlust led her to plan a trip to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea as the media addresses it, but her dreams were shattered when she received an email from an authority stating that won’t be able to allow her to enter North Korea for any purpose other than tourism. Anjaly had nearly lost hope and felt bad about being a writer, the category that wasn’t allowed into North Korea, but her hope was still alive and she managed to fake the profession of a kindergarten teacher to make way for her dream travel. Her family and colleagues did everything in their power to stop her from taking it forward but her determination strengthened when she finally received an official approval letter for her entry into North Korea.
Anjaly’s journey began much before her flight to North Korea, precisely when, along with the formal confirmation email of her entry approval, she received a series of documents to read and sign on, followed by numerous cross-checks, document submissions, background verification, et al. And finally when she did get on to the plane to North Korea, she was surprised to find the picture of North Korea’s king Kim Jong-un on the cover page of a magazine. Upon her arrival, she was grouped with a set of people and wasn’t allowed to take pictures, dance in the rain, indulge in a conversation with the locals, along with other restrictions. Her curiosity was at its pinnacle and she took a step to explore the story behind the mystery associated with North Korea. Thus began her tryst with her most memorable travel.
The narration is quite exhaustive; all details of each and every experience which are surely not relevant to the script on the whole should ideally be eliminated. Also, the title is something in which more thought should have been put; I didn’t quite understand why the book’s title is so because it’s not just the experience of North Korea that Anjaly has narrated but also other countries and continents.
Right from the first page of the book, I could feel the enthusiasm and excitement with which Anjaly wrote the book, such is the power of her words, and I was glad that it didn’t die down even as she concluded with the acknowledgements on the last page. I loved the utmost innocence with which a few minute feelings and thoughts have been shared because I am sure that it’s purpose was only to connect with the audience, to make them experience the same feeling that Anjaly herself went through during her ordeals and explain why traveling is much more than just a holiday or a vacation; it teaches you to learn, change, and adapt in a way nothing else can. Honesty and simplicity are two traits of Anjaly’s narration which have been consistent throughout the book and also the two things which will make your reading time worth it.
An honest view of a part of the world from the eyes of a traveler (3/5)
Coming soon: Anjaly Thomas’ interview.
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