By Chris Tharp
Publication date: September 27, 2011
ISBN (print): 978-988-15161-1-4
Paper edition specs:
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 perfect bound trade paperback
Page count: coming soon
Formats: ePub, mobi (Kindle), PDF
Word count: 90,000
Thousands of young adults pass through South Korea each year, teaching English in private schools that together make up one of the country’s largest industries. Korea, long isolated by culture and geography, with a complex language and set of social mores, can be a difficult place to call home. Chris Tharp has begun to make a name for himself as a travel writer, and in this gruff but affectionate memoir, explains why Korea can be both hard to like and hard to leave. He navigates his way through the timeless alleys and neon streets of Korea’s cities, painting a picture of a society that is at once ancient and utterly modern; he serves in the trenches of the English teaching industry, working his way from the private, for-profit academy to the university; he treks through the peninsula’s mountain valleys and rides deep into the country’s rural soul on the back of his motorcycle; he also explores the internal geography of Korea, from nearly being deported over a comedy performance, getting caught in the middle of a street riot, to staring face to face with North Korean soldiers along the DMZ. During this six-year journey Tharp must also deal with the death of his parents, which forces him to ask the question: Is home a place that we’re from, or is it something we take with us wherever we go?
Tharp is like some punk-rock Huck Finn, as aware and humane as he is blithely non- PC, drama springing up around him with every choice he makes: another country, another drink, another thought he maybe should have kept to himself—but his brain is bigger than his mouth, and Dispatches from the Peninsula gives us the whole show. And somehow, amid all its intelligence and humor, the book packs a deeper wallop too, as a serious meditation on the lifelong experiment of growing up.
– Lawrence Krauser, author of Lemon, The Joy of Google, and The Day in Question
Tough and true is Tharp’s journey in South Korea. I found myself back here, welcoming anew Korea’s wonder, her wrangle, the distinct spirit of the peninsula and her people. All along the way, Tharp is an observant and steady companion.
– Cullen Thomas, author of Brother One Cell
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