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Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Signing: Patricia Park "Re Jane"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , , ,
Last week, I was able to go to Patricia Park's book signing for her novel "Re Jane".  (Which I reviewed over here!)  It's a modern Jane Eyre retelling with a Korean American heroine, that takes place in New York and Korea.  It was a wonderful read for me - very intelligent with a main character who grows so much as the story progresses.

It was also much fun to listen to Patricia talk about her novel at the book signing.  She was so friendly and kind - she happened to sit in front of me before the event to talk to someone and said hi to me and remembered me from twitter!  During the talk she read different excerpts that highlighted different and interesting things in the novel - one descriptive of Queens, New York, one about Korean dramas (I loved how fond and yet gently teasing Jane, the character, is in the book about the obsession with them), and the last excerpt was about language.  I thought it was a great way to get an overview of the novel, and Patricia also talked about her experiences with those things.  Since she lived in Queens, grew up watching Korean period dramas, and went to Korea to do research for her book.  (And that is very evident since I felt the part of the book where Jane goes to Korea was so detailed, vivid and culturally enlightening!)

There was a Q&A portion after the talk, and many people had great questions for Patricia.  Which unfortunately I don't really remember now! I didn't bring my usual notebook for note-taking this time.  I do remember she was asked why she decided to retell "Jane Eyre" and her answer was along the lines of what she said in her interview for the LA Times, which I'm going to quote here since it's much more accurate than my poor brain!

I was born and raised in Queens in an immigrant Korean household and I encountered “Jane Eyre” when I was in the 6th grade. I was immediately struck by it -- it was the first time I saw a heroine self-described as “poor, obscure, plain, and little” get so much airtime. She was so different from the Disney princesses I saw.

And growing up in a strict Korean home, I felt like there were so many parallels to the strict, conservative Victorian England Jane lived in. When I was little and I would misbehave, my mom would say in her broken English, “You act like orphan.” I realized that the postwar Korean construct of the orphan was one that was kind of wicked, mischievous or rather shameful, someone who acted like they didn’t get a good family education. When I revisited “Jane Eyre” in grad school, I noticed a lot of these epithets were thrown at Jane.

And then there was a question that an older gentleman asked Patricia - to briefly explain the plot of "Jane Eyre."  Ummmm, okay.  It's perfectly fine if he has not read "Jane Eyre" - there are many fantastic books I have not read yet, but really??? He has no idea what it's about??   AND he wasn't even sure how to pronounce the last name!!   LOL/TEARS   I was a little flabbergasted by that, but generally trying to keep my cool.  I *think* I pulled it off.  I should have bought a copy of "Jane Eyre" for him.  Help out my fellow man.

The signing was after, and I got my copy signed of course - I also asked Patricia a burning question I had about the book, which I can't really discuss since I don't want to spoil the novel for anyone - but if you have read this book, or hopefully someone reading this will read it in the future - let's discuss!  This was a very enjoyable event for me - not too crowded, and Patricia was funny and engaging.  And I highly recommend reading "Re Jane"!

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