The Passenger: How a Travel Writer Learned to Love Cruises & Other Lies from a Sinking Ship


Product Details

$18.95  $17.62
David R. Godine Publisher
Publish Date
4.8 X 7.6 X 1.1 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author

Chaney Kwak has been traversing the globe for more than a decade to write about food and travel. His work appears regularly in newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, and Travel & Leisure. Mr. Kwak teaches nonfiction writing at the Stanford Continuing Studies program and lives in San Francisco.


"In The Passenger, Chaney Kwak debuts with the ultimate freelancer revenge story: What do you do when the cruise ship you are covering on assignment starts to sink? The result is a gripping story of survival, capitalism, maritime history--nothing less than a very modern adventure, and an instant classic of travel writing."--Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

"The Passenger, with its bare-bones honesty and dry, cynical humor, reveals that when all is said and done, it's the little things that matter: small acts of courage and kindness, words of love, and gratitude for the gift of another day."--Foreword Reviews, starred review

"Chaney Kwak's The Passenger is an unflinching debut about the calamity of survival. Kwak speaks through the silent archives of history--from thousands of Koreans who died at sea to the maritime disasters across the globe. With incendiary humor and transcendent clarity, Kwak exhumes the crisis of our haunted relationships and goes beyond the headlines in every scrolling smartphone to demand a greater understanding of being alive."--E. J. Koh, author of The Magical Language of Others

"A cruise gone terribly wrong frees a veteran travel writer to tell the truth--and Chaney Kwak, mordant and urbane, makes the most of the opportunity."--Ted Conover, author of Newjack, Pulitzer Prize finalist

"If I were aboard a ship in trouble, I'd want no other travel companion than Chaney Kwak. Down to earth, funny, irreverent, vulnerable, candid, The Passenger is wise in the way of the best books in that it subverts all the expected tropes of its narrative. Along the way it thinks about so much--migration, race, art, class, work, relationships--and by its final pages, it's no longer the story of just one person, but a song of interconnectedness, a realization of all the other lives that make one's little time on earth possible. On top of that, it's a total page turner, a rare joy of a book. I want to read it again."--Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

"Chaney Kwak's The Passenger somehow, in one slim volume, manages to do it all: in this hybrid of investigative journalism and travel writing, personal and familial memoir, Kwak chronicles--with searing wit--his long hours aboard a sinking Viking cruise ship, veering from his family's history in post-WWII Korea to the history of successful lifeboat deployments, all against the backdrop of his own failing relationship. Kwak observes human beings with a precise, compassionate eye, moving from poignancy as he contemplates his place in the universe to biting social commentary aimed at the Twitter-storm of armchair storm chasers hoping to capitalize on his doom. I loved this book. It left me longing, guiltily, for Kwak's next misadventure."--Lori Ostlund, author After the Parade and winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction