Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

I really hope Dave feels better after writing this book.  I'm guessing that there's a somewhat autobiographical element to the events that happen in this book - it's too starkly drawn surely for just imagination (mind you, if I'm wrong, well it's some imagination this man has!)

Paul Taylor has taken a job - along with a lot of other people trying to escape from something - in Andong, South Korea.  Teaching English to young Korean children.  The fascinating thing is that horrible kids are basically horrible kids - no matter what country they come from, and teaching English to kids who could care less is obviously a very soul destroying occupation.   Why you'd put yourself through the social isolation, the social deprivation and the dislocation from all you know - just because of a broken heart, well I'm not too sure that you'll know why at the end of this book. 

But you'll surely know what to look out for if you're thinking of taking one of these jobs.  And it absolutely has to either put you off, or if you're more masochistic than others, than maybe you'll be chaffing at the bit to get out there and make it work.

But what I do know is that Paul has a certain way of dealing with all of this and that is to partially disconnect, partially whinge (a lot), partially fight back in weird, devious and frequently petty ways - all of which combine to keep him as close to sane as this bloke's ever going to be.

Now ENGLISH TOSS ON PLANET ANDONG is not strictly crime fiction (although sharing a flat with some of those people could be called a crime), but how to define it is quite a question.  It's a journey novel, it might even be looked upon as a cathartic novel for the writer - it could be called a rant novel, but it is very funny in places, and at other times it's gross and offputting, but it's also touching and revealing in others.

I bet it's not the sort of book that readers of this blog will pick up on a regular basis, but if you're looking for something that is startlingly different (or if you're contemplating a stint as an overseas teacher of English) - ENGLISH TOSS ON PLANET ANDONG is just the ticket.


'Don't you realise you can get by without other people?  They're the ones who make you sad.  They're the ones who let you down, who disappointyou.  And a troubled heart's such a chore.'

Every year, thousands of people travel to faraway lands to to teach English as a foreign language.  The fools.  One such expat is Paul Taylor, a heartbroken Aussie looking for a fresh start in a South Korean classroom.  The lack of training isn't much of a help, but it's the baffling natives and unhinged flatmates that really start to convince him he's crash-landed in another galaxy.

And on Planet Andong, no one can hear you scream.

Karen Chisholm
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