The Disaster Tourist

Paperback edition released 01/07/2021

by Yun Ko-Eun

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LoveReading Expert Review of The Disaster Tourist

This smart stylish satire sends up the absurd artifice of the modern world through the context of disaster tourism, with understated poetry packing powerful punch.

Yun Ko-eun’s The Disaster Tourist is a triumph of originality and slick, satirical style. It’s a richly wry, cuttingly dark comedy that shines a light on the absurdities (and ethical dubiousness) of certain tourism practices, and on modern life more generally, with its understated lyricism packing poignant punch.

Through Yona, we certainly see the bizarreness of the world we live in. A world in which a thirty-three-year-old woman works for a travel company that specialises in disaster tourism package holidays. To compensate Yona for being sexually harassed by him, her boss allows her to take a break on one of the trips they’re thinking of axing. What a deal! What a way to deal with harassment! Yona goes on the trip to the remote Vietnamese island of Mui, where the major attraction is a supposedly catastrophic sinkhole. When she becomes trapped here, the island takes on the appearance of “a theme park that wasn’t yet open”. Then, after making a hideous discovery, cutting truths are revealed like exposed nerves amidst escalating absurdity - and tragedy. Quite brilliant.


Joanne Owen

The Disaster Tourist Synopsis


Yona has been stuck behind a desk for years working as a programming coordinator for Jungle, a travel company specialising in package holidays to destinations ravaged by disaster. When a senior colleague touches her inappropriately she tries to complain, and in an attempt to bury her allegations, the company make her an attractive proposition: a free ticket for one of their most sought-after trips, to the desert island of Mui.

She accepts the offer and travels to the remote island, where the major attraction is a supposedly-dramatic sinkhole. When the customers who've paid a premium for the trip begin to get frustrated, Yona realises that the company has dangerous plans to fabricate an environmental catastrophe to make the trip more interesting, but when she tries to raise the alarm, she discovers she has put her own life in danger.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781788163156
Publication date: 1st July 2021
Author: Yun Ko-Eun
Publisher: Serpent's Tail an imprint of Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 192 pages
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
Other Genres:
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Yun Ko-Eun Press Reviews

A fresh and sharp story about life under late capitalism ... an entertaining eco-thriller - Guardian

The forces pitched against Yona reveal their true scale and monstrosity in a frothy-seeming satire that, in the end, shreds the very idea of commerce to bleeding tatters. I'd say this was a perfect short novel for reading on the beach, but given what's in store . . . -- Simon Ings - The Times

An endlessly surprising and totally gripping read, The Disaster Tourist is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. It questions every aspect of life we so often take for granted, smashing apart any easy distinctions between natural and artificial, normal and abnormal, peaceful and violent, personal and political. There could not be a more prescient moment for this too-real fiction about how we create our own disasters on every scale and what resilience might mean in the face of catastrophe. -- Elvia Wilk, author of Oval

Throughout The Disaster Tourist, there is a sense of impending catastrophe, of something huge and uncontrollable swallowing up those who spend their lives packaging, controlling and creating these macabre tours ... Phenomenal - Spectator

An exciting up-and-coming writer tackling gender ... these themes aren't unique to South Korea, but ones that resonate with women globally. -- Katie Goh - i-D

A gripping literary thriller about disaster, adventure, and a crisis of conscience that will resonate with any traveller. -- Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick and winner of the Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Olga Tokarczuk's Flights

A labyrinth of catastrophes and cataclysms, The Disaster Tourist is a precisely penned novel that lays bare the human condition. Mysterious, evocative, and rich. -- Sarah Rose Etter, author of The Book of X

A mordantly witty novel that touches on everything from the rise of dark tourism to sexual predators in the office to climate change ... a highly literary, ultra-incisive thriller - Refinery29

Excellent ... a plain rendering of the extraordinary - The Irish Times

Cleverly combines absurdity with legitimate horror and mounting dread. With its arresting, nightmarish island scenario, this work speaks volumes about the human cost of tourism in developing countries. - Publishers Weekly

Bizarre but intriguing, The Disaster Tourist will make you feel content with the prospect of staycations for the forseeable - Manchester Evening News

A searing critique of capitalism, the impact of tourism on poor countries and our complicity in it. Gripping. - Writes of Womxn blog

One of the best new books of August 2020 - TIME Magazine

All the upheavals of 2020 perhaps make now the perfect time to read Yun Ko-eun's latest novel, The Disaster Tourist ... it brings too close to home the disasters that we like to believe are far away, separate from us. - LA Review of Books

Fascinating - SheerLuxe

An intriguing read about capitalism's ability to monetise everything including climate disasters ... challenges the reader to more robustly evaluate our curiosity about traumatised communities and landscapes that appear exciting for their unpredictability and history of ruin - Firstpost

Ultimate pandemic reading - South Coast Today

A dystopian novel that reads like, well, next year - InsideHook

A tale of human impact on nature, and the terror nature can inflict back ... A slim book, it packs a hell of a story into a small but thrilling package. - The Skinny

An extravagant, clever, unpredictable story that walks the razor edge of horror-comedy - White Review

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781788163156
Publication date: 01/07/2021
Format: Paperback

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