cover image Same Bed Different Dreams

Same Bed Different Dreams

Ed Park. Random House, $30 (544p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9897-9

Park returns 15 years after Personal Days with an ingenious postmodern epic of colonial and postcolonial Korea framed in a satire of America’s publishing and tech industries. Soon Sheen, a novelist turned tech employee, works at the Google-esque Gloat, where he unplugs from intrusive work notifications to read an English translation of an “unfinished masterpiece” by obscure Korean author Echo titled Same Bed, Different Dreams. Much of Park’s novel is comprised of Echo’s narrative, which purports to be a “true account of the Korean Provisional Government,” a nationalist group that formed in 1919 during the Japanese occupation and which Echo claims did not disband at the end of Japanese rule in 1945 but in fact continues to operate in secret. The KPG is a motley group; among the ideologically opposed “members” claimed by Echo are Parker Jotter, a Black Korean War veteran turned communist sympathizer and radical science fiction novelist; and Ronald Reagan, who decries the 1983 Soviet attack on a Korean passenger jet. Park exhibits a wizardly range of styles; he can be funny, such as when Soon’s dog digs up a missing chapter of Echo’s book just in time for Soon to read it; lyrical, as in a description of snow as Jotter prepares for a mission (“white pinpricks on my jacket like a universe being born”); or poignant, as with revelations about who was on the doomed flight. By the end, it miraculously hangs together, driven by Park’s deep passion for Korean history. This tribute to the fractured peninsula’s citizens, diaspora, and allies is one for the ages. (Nov.)