Familiar Things by Hwang Sok-Yong (translated from the Korean original)
This is a work of fiction although the conditions do exist in the world. A thirteen year old boy's father has been taken away to be "re-educated" by the South Korean government. Bugeye, as he is known on the streets, and his mother sink from poverty into extreme poverty. In order to survive, they end up on Flower Island, a make shift community of tiny shacks around a huge landfill where the people spend their days sifting through garbage to forage what ever they can find to eat or wear or sell. Dirty and dangerous work.
They have to pay a fee in order to be licensed to do this recycling work.
The refuse sifters are not the only beings on the island. There are those, mostly unseen, who remember the island's history.
It has so much potential to be a bleak and depressing story and yet there is so much humanity and a bright spirit that shines through. I really loved it.