It’s a bad start to one’s career: Alone in a foreign country, broke, homeless, living on borrowed time with an expired visa. That was just the start of one teacher’s sojourn through the People’s Republic of China. It started in an enclave of the social elite, winding through isolated farming villages before concluding in a burgeoning financial center. And at each stop, a sea of friendly, smiling faces – the smile of a predator longing to tear off a piece for himself. This is the Middle Kingdom, a place where business is savage and nothing is free of its influence – not even education.
KINGDOM OF SHARKS is an account of the Chinese education system, as experienced by one of the thousands of people who travel abroad to teach English as a Second Language every year. It is divided into two parts – one in the northern city of Changchun, the other in the southern city of Suzhou – and follows the author as he moves between various companies, chronicling the corruption and abuse he witnessed as he moved across the country.
Hailing from a small rural town, Andrew Johnston spent most of his life in Kansas, graduating from the University of Kansas with a Political Science degree in 2008. In his youth, he wrote for a number of websites, including a mid-sized political site called Political Strategy and a perpetually-in-progress browser-based game called Tenadia. After college, he worked as an ESL teacher in the People’s Republic of China, which would later inspire his first book Kingdom of Sharks.