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November 6, 2023

Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park ~ a Review

by MK French

Soon Sheen works at the international technology company GLOAT, and finds an unfinished book detailing a revisionist history. Famous people and bit players are all interconnected, working to bring Korea together.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of literary fiction novel Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park
November 2023; Random House; 978-0812998979
audio, ebook, print (544 pages); literary fiction

The Korean Provisional Government had formed to protest the Japanese occupation of their country and had been dissolved after Japan's defeat in World War II. In this novel, however, the KPG remained intact, working toward a unified Korea. The three main POVs of this novel are interconnected, which isn't immediately obvious when you begin the story. We start with Soon and other Korean literary types discussing books and history, and in a very meta point, Soon begins to read Echo's book "Same Bed Different Dreams." KPG members were part of the resistance, and there were "secret members" apparently so secret they didn't know they were members. Or "founding members" that had died before the KPG was even formed. This book is written in a microessay format, going through history and tying figures together with the goal of gaining Korean independence. There is another thread of a different author writing a sci-fi series of novels and his family life, then the people working to make it into a game.

This literary novel has multiple nested books and plots, which admittedly made it harder for me to get attached to any of the characters. We find them in the middle of their problems and dreams, then cut to the book. Then at the end of a book section, we move to different characters and their problems. With the threads weaving in and out of each other, it starts getting more interconnected as the manuscript pushes forward to the present. The microessays start relating the history of figures with multiple names, and some of them we start to recognize. The connections are layered, with meaning given to each one in code, until we get to the conclusion of the book. I'm not sure if I like the characters, because it feels more like a history text than a novel, and often we don't get insight into how they feel. Korean history is the core of the story and the unifying component underlying it all. The different meanings people give it are the different dreams for Korea and heritage.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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