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An interview with Jane Jeong Trenk

The Loft

While visiting Seoul in June, I had the opportunity to talk with Jane Jeong Trenka at her home about her recently released memoir, Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea (Graywolf, 2009), a follow-up to her highly acclaimed The Language of Blood (Graywolf Press, 2003), praised by Publishers Weekly for its originality and beautiful writing. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Jeong Trenka is also cofounder and president of Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK), a progressive organization that advocates for full understanding of the practices of adoption, both past and present, to preserve the human rights of children and families.

Jeong Trenka’s house sits at the end of a narrow side street in Seoul’s bustling historic center. In this urban solitude, I’m struck by the maps of language and maps of place in Jeong Trenka’s new book, in which overseas Korean adoptees have returned to Seoul to live as “Fugitives of destruction, fugitives of failed marriages, fugitives of racism, fugitives of ourselves and of our pasts, or memories we can’t remember, looking for something we can’t name, not necessarily our mothers . . .” Fugitive Visions offers complicated answers to the frequently asked question, “Why have you decided to live in Korea?”

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