Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST November 7, 2023
The Center for Fiction
The Ticket/Voucher option includes a $10 Bookstore voucher, redeemable toward the featured event book on the night of the event.
The Center for Fiction is thrilled to welcome Ed Park, author of the novel Personal Days and founding editor of The Believer, to discuss his latest novel, Same Bed Different Dreams. This imaginative, exciting depiction of an alternate secret history of Korea is a genre-defying romp featuring assassins and mad poets, RPGs and slasher films, pop bands and the perils of social media. He is joined by Hua Hsu (Stay True) for a conversation about Korean history and culture, weaving together narrative and time, and pushing the limits of genre.
Ed Park is the author of the novels Same Bed Different Dreams and Personal Days, which was named one of Time’s top 10 books of 2008 and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. His stories and nonfiction appear in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, the Atlantic, Bookforum, and many other publications. He is a founding editor of The Believer and the former literary editor of The Village Voice. Born in Buffalo, Ed lives in Manhattan with his family. He currently teaches writing at Princeton University.
Photo Credit: Sylvia Plachy
Hua Hsu is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Stay True, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and was a top ten book of 2022 at the New York Times, Washington Post, the Atlantic, and New York magazine. He is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a professor of Literature at Bard College. Hsu serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He was formerly a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.
Photo Credit: Devlin Claro
Same Bed Different Dreams
By Ed Park
Published by Penguin Random House
March, 1919. Far-flung Korean patriots establish the Korean Provisional Government to protest the Japanese occupation of their country. This government-in-exile proves mostly symbolic, though, and after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the KPG dissolves and civil war erupts, resulting in the North-South split that remains today.
But what if the KPG still existed now, today—working toward a unified Korea, secretly harnessing the might of a giant tech company to further its aims? That’s the outrageous premise of Same Bed Different Dreams, which weaves together three distinct narrative voices and an archive of mysterious images and twists reality like a kaleidoscope, spinning Korean history, American pop culture, and our tech-fraught lives into an extraordinary and unforgettable novel.
Early on we meet Soon Sheen, who works at the sprawling international technology company GLOAT, and comes into possession of an unfinished book authored by the KPG. The manuscript is a mysterious, revisionist history, tying famous names and obscure bit players to the KPG’s grand project. This strange manuscript links together figures from architect-poet Yi Sang to Jack London to Marilyn Monroe. M*A*S*H is in here, too, and the Moonies, and a history of violence extending from the assassination of President McKinley to the Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.
Just as foreign countries have imposed their desires on Korea, so too has Park tucked different dreamers into this sprawling bed of a novel. Among them: Parker Jotter, Korean War vet and appliance-store owner, who saw something–a UFO?–while flying over North Korea; Nora You, nail salon magnate; and Monk Zingapan, game designer turned writing guru. Their links are revealed over time, even as the dreamers remain in the dark as to their own interconnectedness. A thrilling feat of imagination and a step forward from an award-winning author, Same Bed Different Dreams begins as a comic novel and gradually pulls readers into another dimension—one in which utopia is possible.