- “[Trenka’s] anger is the spine of the book, a child ‘exiled for no crime except my birth to a battered wife.’ I admire the ferocity of this book. ‘The orphan,’ Trenka writes, ‘has an insatiable hunger.’”—Los Angeles Times
made in Korea > cheap goods > cheap labor > cheap womb > cheap adoption > cheap immigration > cheap immigrant > cheap yellow daughter > honorary white > almost but not quite
Whenever she speaks to a stranger in her native Korea, Jane Jeong Trenka is forced to explain what she is. Japanese? Chinese? The answer—that she was adopted from Korea as a baby and grew up in the United States—is a source of grief, pride, and confusion.
Trenka’s award-winning first book, The Language of Blood, told the story of her upbringing in a white family in rural Minnesota. Now, in this searching and provocative memoir, Trenka explores a new question: Can she make an adult life for herself in Korea? Despite numerous setbacks, Trenka resolves to learn the language and ways of her unfamiliar birth country.
In navigating the myriad contradictions and disjunctions that have made up her life, Trenka turns to the lessons from her past—in particular, the concept of dissonance and harmony learned over her years as a musician. In Fugitive Visions, named after a composition by Prokofiev, Trenka has succeeded in braiding the disparate elements of her life into a recognizable and at times heartbreaking whole.
- “[A] potent, moving memoir. . . which is articulated through vivid prose pieces that are lyrical, provocative, sensuous, and complex. Through it all, Trenka’s story thoroughly engages. Her insights into the fears, joys, and contradictions of the transnational adoptive experience challenge and redefine notions of belonging.”—UTNE Reader
- “Trenka’s fugitive visions are elusive, peripatetic, and disjunctive, and demand new ways of seeing, hearing, and knowing, but they are also generous, compassionate, and ironic, rewarding us with moving evocations of the adversities and absurdities that confront people out of joint and out of place in the contemporary global moment.”—Eleana Kim, scholar of Korean and transnational adoption
- “Fugitive Visions offers a searing, intimate portrait of an artist’s return to her native land. Trenka opens a door for readers into the sharply contoured sorrows and disorientations of diaspora—the bittersweet duality of knowing the fruits of the land with one's body but still having the language lie uneasy and rebellious on the foreign-trained tongue.”—Sun Yung Shin, author of Skirt Full of Black
- “A ground-breaking repatriation of overseas adopted voice from within Seoul’s dizzying center, Fugitive Visions rewrites myths of homecoming from both sides of the Pacific through a lyrical and perceptive music of love, community, family, and international politics. This is a visionary narrative that charts forbidden, fragmented geographies of desire where Jeong Trenka’s uncanny ability to name the flux sliding among bodies, borders, and languages strikes perfect pitch. With such mastery, readers will find that her second book powerfully reveals the global ironies affecting their most difficult questions about home.”—Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, author of Paper Pavilion