Near future climate fiction in translation with a feminist sensibility: this is satire at its best—lighthearted and exciting, all while the slow tendrils of complicity creep up on the reader until they’re inescapable.
The Disaster Tourist excoriates the modern workplace, sexual harassment, the staged nature of modern-day hyphenated tourism (eco-tourism, volun-tourism, etc) as well as national and personal responses to climate change and and our short media-savvy attention spans.
The Disaster Tourist is award-winning South Korean novelist Yun Ko-eun’s first novel available in English to be published in the United States (Table for One, a collection of short stories also translated by Lizzie Buehler, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in October 2020)
Fans of young English-language cli-fi writers of the moment—Ling Ma, Elvia Wilk, Omar El Akkad, and Claire Vaye Watkins—will find much to relish here
Translated from the Korean by Lizzie Buehler, a young active member of the translation community who also writes on the intersections of gender studies and translation
The Disaster Tourist strikingly illustrates the nuances of workplace sexual politics and the ways capitalism interacts with climate change and human-caused disaster, alchemizing these with a darkly humorous sensibility and fine-drawn satire
The satire here asks questions of leverage:
-How does capitalism leverage the effects of climate change for profit?
-How do workplaces leverage bonuses/benefits in exchange for silence?
-How do travelers leverage privilege for social capital?
-And how complicit are we in the ills of our industries?
Equally for fans of Elif Batuman’s self-aware, deadpan narrator in The Idiot, of the ways Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman and Ling Ma’s Severance explore the ways our identities entwine with our workplaces, and of the subtle surreal in Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder
A short, quick, brutally smart book to hold us all accountable
Acquired by Jenny Alton (editor of Hard Mouth and The Atlas of Reds and Blues)
Yun Ko-eun lives in Seoul, South Korea; Lizzie Buehler lives in Iowa City, IA
Bookseller Praise for The Disaster Tourist
"Yun Ko-eun's book was probably not the best choice to read during disaster, but it is definitely a book for these times. The Disaster Tourist is about exposing hypocrisy, human greed, and utter disregard for life. It's short and pithy and blunt." —Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose (Washington, DC)
"Written with a sparse honesty, a devastating tongue-in-cheek treatment of sexism and classism, and an exacting portrayal of human hypocrisy, The Disaster Tourist is a dark dramedy that you can't help but binge-read." —Morgan McComb, bookseller, Square Books (Oxford, MS)
"Astute and idiosyncratic, The Disaster Tourist entertains thoroughly as it comments on issues of economics and climate that too little fiction does." —James Crossley, bookseller, Madison Books (Seattle, WA)
"When Yona, a designer of 'disaster tours,' is sent on a trip by her company, she thinks she's just there to assess the tour. But after she loses her passport, everything goes sideways, and nothing is as it seems. This book is absolutely wild!" —Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music (Millerton, NY)