MSNBC: The Book Report
Patricia Park ‘03 recently appeared on MSNBC's The Book Report to discuss Re Jane: A Novel, her contemporary re-telling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre featuring a half-Korean, half-American orphan from Flushing, Queens. When asked how autobiographical the book is, Park jokes, "So I basically took my old diaries, crossed out my name, and put Jane's in."
Park also apeared on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. “I guess it’s pretty audacious," she tells Lehrer, "to take on a classic and put your own spin on it, but for me this book really spoke to me.” She relays the story of her mother calling her an orphan whenever she misbehaved as a child. “It meant you were acting in a disgraceful way that shamed your family,” she explains. “Jane Eyre as well is constantly thrown these epithets, ‘wicked,’ ‘mischevious,’ ‘friendless,’ and I realized that the Victorian construct of the orphan and the Korean post-war one had many similarities. So mine kind of drew that link and I imbued my own experiences to this novel.” Listen to the full interview.
In the novel, Jane Re enters the world of academics, which Park says is partly inspired by her own experience of coming from Queens and attending Swarthmore College, where she “entered a world that felt like everyone was speaking a foreign language.” She adds: “I didn’t speak academicese. I don’t even know that’s what you call it, but I had to learn quick!”
Park graduated from Swarthmore College in 2003 with an Honors English literature major and psychology minor. She completed her M.F.A. at Boston University. In 2009, Park was awarded a Fulbright, which she used to travel to Korea to do research for her novel.