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Re Jane
Cover of Re Jane
Re Jane
A Novel
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"Re Jane is snappy and memorable, with its clever narrator and insights on clashing cultures."—Entertainment WeeklyFor Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place...
"Re Jane is snappy and memorable, with its clever narrator and insights on clashing cultures."—Entertainment WeeklyFor Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place...
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  • "Re Jane is snappy and memorable, with its clever narrator and insights on clashing cultures."—Entertainment Weekly
    For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she's been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle's grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she's thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer's feminist lectures and Ed Farley's very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed's blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.
    Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is. Re Jane is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for one's self.
    Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut
    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    PART I

    Brooklyn

    "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!"

    Jane Eyre

    Chapter 1

    Flushing

    Home was this northeastern knot of Queens, in the town (if you could call it a town) of Flushing. Northern Boulevard was our main commercial thoroughfare, and two-family attached houses crowded its side streets. They say the neighborhood once contained a hearty swath of the American population, but when I landed here as an infant, Flushing was starting to give way to the Koreans. By the time I graduated from college in 2000, Northern looked like this: Daedong River Fish Market, named after the East River of Pyongyang. Chosun Dynasty Auto Body, run by the father of a girl from my BC calc class. Kumgang Mountain Dry Cleaning, owned by my uncle's accountant's cousin on his mother's side. This was my America: all Korean, all the time.

    Flushing. The irony was that none of its residents could pronounce the name of their adopted hometown; the Korean language lacked certain English consonants and clusters. The letter F was assimilated to an H or a P. The adults at church would go Hoo before they could form the word, as if cooling it off their tongue. My uncle and aunt's rendition: Poo, Rushing. It could've been poetry.

    Home was 718 Gates Street, Unit 1. It was my Uncle Sang's house, and I lived there with his family: his wife, Hannah, and my younger cousins, Mary and George. A few blocks away was his store. It was a modest-size grocery carrying a mix of American and Korean products, along with the usual emergency supplies—flashlights and batteries, candles and condoms. From Northern you could spot our green awning, bearing four white letters in all caps: F-O-O-D. Below it were large wooden tables stacked with pyramids of fruit.

    One day in late summer, I was crouched in one of the aisles, turning cans of beans face out and flush with the lip of the shelf. I heard someone say, in Korean, "Jane-ah. I heard about Lowood. What a shame."

    It was Mrs. Bae, the wife of the pastor of our church. I stood and ducked my head into a bow. At five foot seven, I towered over most of the women of Flushing. Her words were like salt sprinkled on the sting of being the only one in my graduating class still bagging groceries and restocking merchandise. The economy—with the exception of the tech industry—was, for the most part, still booming. I'd had a job with Lowood Capital Partners lined up since my senior year last fall, never anticipating that in the months that followed, here's what would happen: The company would be heavily leveraged in dot-com investments, the CEO would resign after accusations of insider trading, and the interim CEO would issue a hiring freeze. My job offer had been rescinded.

    Mrs. Bae went on. About how her daughter Jessica worked such long hours at Bear Stearns yet still she would wash the rice and do the laundry and help her little sister with her homework after she got home. How Mrs. Bae felt undeserving of such a devoted daughter. What Mrs. Bae didn't know was that "Jessica the PK" (Pastor's Kid) had cut class every Thursday our senior year of high school to shoot pool at Amsterdam Billiards in the city.

    "I'll tell our Jessica to help you," Mrs. Bae said, staring back with the usual curious expression she seemed to reserve for me. You'd think that after all these years I would've gotten used to it. I didn't. I averted my eyes, focusing on the hairline cracks running through the floor tiles.

    "No, no, that's too much trouble for you." That was Sang, approaching...

About the Author-

  • Patricia Park was born and raised in New York City. She earned her BA in English from Swarthmore College and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University, where she studied with Ha Jin and Allegra Goodman. A former Fulbright Scholar and Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction, she has published essays in The New York Times, Slice, and The Guardian. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 16, 2015
    Park’s debut is a cheeky, clever homage to Jane Eyre, interwoven with touching meditations on Korean-American identity. Jane Re has never felt like she fit in, and not just because she’s a half-Korean orphan in the “all-Korean, all the time” enclave of Flushing, Queens. After graduating from CUNY, she’s still stocking shelves in her uncle’s grocery store while her overachieving peers have moved on to graduate school and high-profile finance jobs. Desperate for a change of scenery, Jane takes a job as an au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, a Brooklyn couple with an adopted Chinese daughter. Jane comes to love her charge, her new neighborhood, and her new bosses. But when the friendly bond she shares with Ed Farley goes a step too far, she flees New York for Seoul, where she gets in touch with her roots and uncovers a new sense of identity. Though the Brontë references occasionally land with the subtlety of an anvil, Park’s clever one-liners make the story memorable, and her riffs on cultural identity will resonate with any reader who’s ever felt out of place. Agent: Esmond Harmsworth and Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

  • AudioFile Magazine Jane Re is half-American, half-Korean--and an unlikely character for this contemporary retelling of the British classic JANE EYRE. Jane's plucky, sarcastic interior monologue is delivered in bright tones by Diana Bang. The story takes listeners from the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn to Seoul, Korea. We feel the ups and downs of being a multiracial orphan through Bang's characterization of Jane. As people are indifferent, inconsiderate, and downright mean to Jane, Bang delivers insensitive lines of dialogue filled with the glee of the mean-spirited. She uses believable accents to convey the novel's range of nationalities--from Brooklynites to Koreans living in America. At times, her emphatic delivery lacks variation in tone, but the fast-paced story keeps one listening. M.R. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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