Same Bed Different Dreams

Random. Nov. 2023. 544p. ISBN 9780812998979. $30. F
Park’s (Personal Days) magnum opus of the Korean diaspora is told in a set of five dreams, multiple levels of which provide a kaleidoscope of perspectives that intersect along overlapping indices of history and significance. These overlaps define the most interesting characters as members of a mythic Korean Provisional Government in a humorous and yet intensely serious manner. The fictional format adroitly illustrates rampant racism and colonial degradation stemming from political maneuvering as far back as the forgotten naval victory of Admiral Yi Sun-sin in 1597, through the Russo-Japanese War and Japanese occupation to the Korean conflict and beyond. The sections are leavened with imaginative works of science fiction by an ex–Korean War POW and the narrator’s experiences at a futuristic technology company. This illustrates a form of dreaming that elicits connections across space and time and brings readers into a focused experience of cyclical existence across a constantly repopulated world stage.
VERDICT Cameo appearances by historical figures like Syngman Rhee, Sun Myung Moon, Ronald Reagan, and Phillip K. Dick underscore their connections to the literature, film, and politics that have created and divided the Koreas of today; this playfully serious must-read is highly recommended.
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