A woman who sells vacations to places that have been devastated by natural and other disasters goes into the field to check out one of her company's least profitable destinations. When she uncovers a plan to fabricate an extravagant catastrophe, she must choose: prioritize the callous company to whom she’s dedicated her life, or embrace a fresh start in a powerful new position?
Yun Ko-eun’s prose is economical and exacting—but also intensely atmospheric, especially as the novel unfolds to its grim conclusion. Realism, speculation, and a fairly entropic sense of the fantastic are all melded together. The translation by Lizzie Buehler dances with great facility across the novel’s scalpel-precise observational detail as well as the nightmare-logic of Yona’s unravelling situation. Each line of this packed volume does multiple layers of labor simultaneously: thematic, descriptive, philosophical, narrative. She wastes no words ... a wildly, necessarily uncomfortable narrative about the effects of the systemic corruption of late capitalism on multiple scales. The novel is downright spooky, holding a mirror up to the individual reader: how do we participate, and what draws us to do so, and how are we all cogs in a great and overwhelming catastrophe?
... a very complex and gripping thriller ... I loved this book. It took me by surprise because the plot had such a slow burn to it ... the way it ended was satisfying but the realism made it all the more terrifying too. It had a great mystery and I still don’t fully understand and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to interpret the true meaning out of the various symbols weaved throughout the story. It also amazes me as to how much this book managed to pack in, in under 200 pages of writing ... absolutely fantastic and thought-provoking writing as its best.
All the upheavals of 2020 perhaps make now the perfect time to read Yun Ko-eun’s latest novel, The Disaster Tourist ... The Disaster Tourist, translated by Lizzie Buehler, lays bare the inherent inauthenticity of the tourist experience — especially those that purport to be beneficial, even humanitarian, for the local community — and does so in a way that will make you creepily uncomfortable about all your past travel adventures.