Troubador Somewhere in Europe

Released: 28/03/2020

eISBN: 9781838595692

Format: eBook

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Somewhere in Europe


After reluctantly being ‘rationalised’ from his Foreign Office job, Kevin Crump takes up a teaching position at Cambrian University, the most improved university in South Wales. 

There he finds a culture in which ‘Political Correctness 2.0’ is out of control, with ‘no-platforming’, intolerance of free speech, insidious anti-Semitism, gender politics in all its/her/his/their forms, ‘trigger warnings’ banning classic books so as not to offend the sensibilities of ‘snowflake’ students, and ‘positive’ discrimination and diversity drives galore. In the midst of all this, Brexit begins.

When the university claims to have discovered a founding document giving it the right, with royal approval, to declare independence from Britain and continued loyalty to the EU, the vast majority of staff and students are delighted. However, things may not be quite as simple as they first seem. It is how Crump negotiates this and more which forms the basis of this entertainingly absurd and timely novel, and which will ultimately decide his future and his fate. 

“It’s like a cross between Catch-22 and Lucky Jim for the Brexit generation.” 

21.8.20 Some great reviews coming in, from magazines (BCSA) and social media. Two radio interviews lined up too. Lockdown has had a big effect on medic coverage because most magazine etc offices have been close. However, I hope reviews trickle through more and more in coming weeks. SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE is a campus novel ideal for academics to read, so as they return to university, I hope they will discover it - though they might not like it! Satire speaks truth to power...

2.6.20 SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE - a 'Crump' campus novel was released on 28th March, just four days after lockdown! That has made marketing challenging, though promotion copies have been sent out, and replies received (from Sir David Attenborough, Edwina Currie, Matthew Paris - Times journalist - the Brigadier in charge of education at Sandhurst, the Academics For Academic Freedom Association and more).

I shall promote the novel more in September/October as it really is a novel all serious academic should read to see themselves - my satirical state-of-the-nation speaks truth to power, which will of course offend those bigoted wokies I lampoon, because satire always has a target and they are mine, together with other hypocrites in the higher education system and society generally.

I look forward to more reviews after lockdown - at present, many offices are still closed. Crump (2010) too 3 years to sell out of 1000 copies and got some great reviews, in time - especially in the USA and Canada.

So many people have told me how well-written, funny and moving the novel is, and how very timely. Those who cannot see this are almost certainly lacking the education to read an intelligent, satirical novel such as SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE and should perhaps stick to what they know.

October 2016

I am pleased to announce that RASMUS - A TELEVISION TALE will be published in OCTOBER 2016 (28th or earlier).

It has been a hard, but enjoyable, activity writing this complex 'state of the nation' novel - which is unlike any novel I have ever read - set against the backdrop of the TV industry.

I actually started it in 2011, have worked on it since then bit by bit while writing other books, and have more or less rewritten it twice (the first draft was 161,000 words; the published version around 96,000, so lots of cuts made!) It's a book to make people laugh, wince and think - which may not be very popular with some readers (who prefer happy romantic stories about weddings etc - which sell in their millions) but I could not bear writing a novel which had NOTHING to say. RASMUS has a lot to say!

And I can assure readers of one thing: when you read RASMUS you'll never look at TV in the same way again!


The book launch has gone well, with lots of positive feedback, and local shops such as Cover to Cover displaying the book prominently - in the shop window too!

I've also received positive feedback in response to some of the promotional copies I sent out: letters from the office of Prince Charles, Rowan Williams, a hand-written note from David Attenborough, and personal emails from Lord Digby Jones and Chris Woodhead, amongst others.

12 April 2010: South Wales Evening Post - article entitled 'Author's got A-list fanbase' published on page 12 with photo; the article calls 'Crump' 'a good read' and says that the 'author has won some famous fans with his debut novel'. Fair enough!

May 2010: Crump has got a great review in the May issue of The Bay magazine. It calls Crump "A startling novel".

May/June 2010: Also, Swansea Eye has got a review of Crump this month: again, a very good one! "The Lucky Jim" of now!

Crump will be available to buy at the Hay Festival site, May-June 2010.

July 2010 - Crump gets a mention on BBC Radio 2.

Pleased to report that Crump has now been read by people in Canada, the USA, Australia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and in all parts of the UK.

10 August 2010: I was emailed the review that will appear in the September issue of 'Anglo-Files' (a twice-yearly magazine that goes to all schools and colleges in Denmark) by Futurum books (which sells books to schools and colleges in Denmark, Sweden and Norway). Apparently, the review (2000 words in Danish!) in 90% positive! The reviewer praises Crump for being:

“funny, frightening and thought provoking”

Describes what the market forces do to Crump's educational institution; Recommends the book for the English depot at the school; Recommends reading extracts in class; Draws parallels to Danish universities; Ends with various considerations about the future of the Danish educational system. Though the reviewer doesn't like the way Muslims are portrayed in the book!

19 August 2010: A review of Crump on today:

Generally positive, stating that Crump has:

"an engaging writing style, that grabs you from the first page and keeps you entertained throughout. The characters are writ large,... the satire easy to get to grips with, and it all flows nicely from the page...As comic novels go, it ticks enough of the right boxes and makes for an enjoyable, light read, perhaps for lounging around on the beach or by the pool. Frustrated teachers on their summer holidays will either find it blessed relief, or a little too close to the bone for comfort."


"Those who hate political correctness will love it."

19.8.10. Today, I became a member of The Society of Authors.

October 2010: did an email interview with The London Student, the biggest student newspaper in Europe.

November 2010: has been kind enough to do a review, again 90% positive:

It says:

"Intended as a darkly comical, yet loaded with truisms; Crump holds no punches – neither in terms of its use of very strong language, nor in its roughshod treatment of the inner workings of higher education."


"Crump is a stinging condemnation of how we have lost sight of the trees for the forest. Its comedic aspects are darker than dark, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. In fact, there will be, no doubt, those who will find this book unpalatable and perhaps offensive. Other will proclaim disgust loudly; whilst quietly agreeing with the vast majority of the author’s sentiments. In our terribly PC world, it is becoming increasingly rare for an author to express certain opinions"

And finally:

It "certainly send(s) the message that Vanston means business."

November 17 2010: review published online. Generally positive:

"Whatever else the book is it is thought provoking, holding many sacred cows of political correctness up for ridicule...Crump is very readable." now has an author profile and Crump feature page:

The premise looked really interesting, it is set mostly in Wales, in a university too. Dare I say I thought it may be a bit Jasper Fforde-ish? Spoiler: I was very wrong. It wasn't savage satire, it was just sad. Poor descriptions and cliched phrases, I mean it is a truth universally acknowledged that if you're going to use an overused cliché you shouldn't do it twice in the same story.

I was confused by the place naming, one was called The Town (clearly Swansea), yet London gets a mention. Not only that, but they go to Gower [sic] Gower. I mean, everybody in South Wales would say 'The Gower'. The tired old tropes of the other characters come hard and fast, Boyo Bellylaughs can only tell a racist joke, the young character cannot speak to make any sense, the foreign students speak in an unbelievable way, and characters appear and disappear as suits the need of the story at that time.

"Crump wondered how communication could take place when one person was, in effect, wearing a mask?...blah blah…pandering to extreme needs…blah blah". So, after this, there is a 4-page preamble of a gammon mind about how it's unethical and was originally meant to be a punishment blah blah blah. So, of course, this is followed by characters being referred to as him/her throughout. I couldn't get on with the character, but that hasn't stopped me before; think Queenie or Elinor Oliphant. What's worse is that the chapters overly long as the character mansplains his feelings and brings up every argument every shade of gammon a bore usually does when another person speaks. I mean, if my eyes could roll any further back I'd be able to make money from it.

The main antagonist of the book is a female character campaigning for safer spaces. The protagonist does not feel the need for safer spaces, likely because he is a CIS white male. I mean he's really angry at the fact he's one of the most privileged demographics in the world and all I could hear was white male tears. Boohoo. In the end, she is belittled as much as is humanly possible and essentially be made out to be a little girl. There are invalid plot points that lead to nowhere, nothing really happens, you couldn't even call it a bildungsroman because the character is the same pink-faced, white man and the sound of their tears.

Somewhere in Europe is published through a self-publishing company called Matador books. I received my version through Net Galley UK.

by Jeni Scott

This is a brilliantly scathing satire about the modern UK university system, full of woke snowflake posturing, manbashing intersectional feminist activists, transactivists, those who want to ban books and no-platform speakers who may 'offend' or 'trigger' oversensitive students (and staff) too bigoted and intolerant ti listen to others opinion. Those it satirises will no doubt hate it - so well does this novel expose their hypocrisy and self-serving, unthinking, bigoted intentions.

But this novel is more than campus satire. It is hilariously funny, and I mean real laugh-out-loud funny, with superb comic dialogue - a real new Lucky Jim, and then some.

There are also deeply moving scenes, which make this a truly epic state-of-the-nation novel.

As Matt Haig has said: "Books do not have to be polite. They can explode."

Well SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE is a superb satire which should be read by anyone involved in education, even though readers may recognise themselves and the education they work in with a certain horror. Satire is meant to speak truth to power - and this exceptional novel does just that.

5 stars. The best campus satire for years.

by Jumper

This novel would appeal to anyone in higher education. It pulls no punches in portraying the mad mad mad mad world of UK universities in the age of wokedom, intersectional misandrist feminist activists, transmania, anti-white race politics and more.

Not for any sensitive woke snowflakes as it tells it as it is.

Full of action, hilarious, with superb dialogue, bonkers characters and a really cinematic feel, this novel has both head and heart. Any reader who cannot appreciate that is perhaps lacking something in their ability to read such an intelligent, satirical novel.

by Swiftian

I'm reading Somewhere in Europe at the moment and I've never laughed as much reading any other book, the character names just make be burst out laughing, some of Crump's remarks are hilarious. Great read.

by Facebook review

“Thoroughly engrossing, enjoyable and perplexing. Believable characters and a plot that I really wasn’t expecting. Everything you want from a mystery – and more!”


by A Place in the O Media, Netgalley review

Bold, fearless, defiant, off-beat, quirky, one of a kind, hilarious, timely and deeply individual, Vanston’s independence of thought is both brave and bracing.
I have become increasingly bored with and annoyed by modern British novels – many have that smug metropolitan elite smell on them, often loyal Remain voter authors too belittling and abusing anyone who voted to leave the EU.
This author is a breath of fresh air as he portrays both Leavers and Remainers in a mocking way when needed, and ceaselessly defends democracy and freedom of speech. The best comic novel I have read for years and one written with integrity and deep intelligence. And oh yes, it’s also bloody funny in parts, and tear-jerkingly moving in others.
A real state of the nation novel for our times. 10 out of 10. A modern classic, for sure, which will no doubt annoy many who subscribe to the ‘politically correct’ woke and broke world we are currently suffering.
An Orwell or Swift for our time.
Brilliant stuff!

by Stella (Facebook review, August 30th 2020)

Just finished reading SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE and found it very entertaining and hilarious in places, i burst out laughing on many occasions whilst reading it, a must-read for the anti-woke brigade like myself.

by gefb (Amazon review 13.9.20)

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny but serious but funny. Buy it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 September 2020
Somewhere in Europe is a very well written, thought provoking book about woke culture and left wing ideology which has taken over our universities over recent years.
It’s very funny and well worth reading. PJ Vanston has first hand knowledge of the situation within our academic institutions and his excellent book provides a literary antidote to the venom of left wing academia.

by Monkeyboy (Amazon review 11.9.20)

P.J. Vanston

P.J.Vanston is an award-winning author who has been a teacher and lecturer at schools and colleges in the UK and mainland Europe. He was born and brought up in Kent, but now lives in Swansea where he runs his own editing company. He also writes as Jem Vanston, has published seven books, and is published songwriter too.

Photo by Dimitri Legakis

Photo by Dimitri Legakis
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