Dystopian Nonfiction

I recently finished the book Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by MT Anderson. It's a moving account of how music can stir our passions and give us the will to survive. Leningrad during World War II was harsher than many dystopian settings we're given in fiction, and it all really happened: barbaric leaders, purges, cannibals and streets full of dead people.

Shortly after finishing, I was talking to Author SJ Kinkaid and she told me about a non-ficition dystopian she is reading:

I've only started Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea  but it struck me while reading that we in the YA community have been writing dystopias, and people like Jang Jin-sung have been living them... And the real dystopias are so much more chilling than any imaginary world could be. This is one of many books I've read about North Korea lately, but this is the first from the perspective of an insider to the regime. This man truly, earnestly believed himself to be living in a utopia, with a living God presiding over it, and he comes face to face with Kim Jong Il and is shocked to realize his leader is capable of getting blisters on his feet. There's a moment when Kim Jong Il sheds a few tears hearing a moving song, and all the men about him find themselves swept into uncontrollable weeping just at the sight of that... It's difficult to imagine the sheer psychological terror gripping such a society. It's a horrific but fascinating read.

Sometimes, when it comes to dystopians, truth can be harsher than fiction.

SJ Kinkaid is the author of the Insignia series and the forthcoming The Diabolic. Follow her on twitter @SJKinkaidBooks