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What to expect

In March 2019, the Viking Sky cruise ship was struck by a bomb cyclone in the North Atlantic. Rocked by fifty-foot swells and forty-knot gales, the ship lost power and began to drift straight toward the notoriously dangerous Hustadvika coast in Norway. This is the suspenseful, harrowing, funny, touching story by one passenger who contemplated death aboard that ship.

Chaney Kwak is a travel writer used to all sorts of mishaps on the road, but this is a first even for him: trapped on the battered cruise ship, he stuffs his passport into his underwear just in case his body has to be identified. As the massive cruise ship sways in surging waves, Kwak holds on and watches news of the impending disaster unfold on Twitter, where the ship’s nearly 1,400 passengers are showered with “thoughts and prayers.” Kwak uses his twenty-seven hours aboard the teetering ship to examine his family history, maritime tragedies, and the failing relationship back on shore with a man he’s loved for nearly two decades: the Viking Sky, he realizes, may not be the only sinking ship he needs to escape.

The Passenger takes listeners on an unforgettable journey from the Norwegian coast to the South China Sea, from post-WWII Korea to pandemic-struck San Francisco. Kwak weaves his personal experience into events spanning decades and continents to explore the serendipity and the relationships that move us.

Critics Review

  • “A great read.”

    San Francisco Examiner
  • “Titanic clarity and humor that’s as dark as it is dry.”

    Travel + Leisure magazine
  • “Beautifully written…Keong Sim narrates the book in a serene, resonant voice, capturing the author’s wry humor and feelings of awe and fatalism. This is a marvelous book, superbly delivered.”

    Washington Post (audio review)
  • “For fans of The Perfect Storm, In the Heart of the Sea, and Bill Bryson on his sassiest days.”

    Afar Travel Magazine and Guide
  • “Thoughtful, exciting, and often hilarious.”

    New York Post
  • “A gripping adventure tale…a solemn reminder not to wait until we might be dying to think hard about life.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

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