An American Korean writer, Min Jin Lee has been writing for a number of years now, primarily focusing on her background. With two fiction novels written so far, she is also well known for contributing to a variety of different publications and outlets. Lecturing on writing as well, she is a clear advocate for both her and her craft, having spoken at a number of highly prestigious and well regarded universities.
Early and Personal Life
Born in 1968 in South Korea the future author to be Min Jin Lee was born and raised in the city of Seoul there. It was during her childhood that her family then migrated to the United States in 1976 at the age of seven years old. This was to have an impact on her in later life along with her work, as it came to be reflected in the many themes and ideas she would use.
Studying history at Yale University she went on to attend Georgetown University Law Center where she studied law. This would lead her into a career in law, all the while continuing to write and progress with her primary ambition of becoming a novelist full-time. It was also her education and her time at university that she would come to write about in the following years to come as well.
Working as a corporate based lawyer prior to becoming a full-time critically acclaimed novelist, she would get some experience with which to write about. Providing material it would also allow her to find herself and she was as novelist and what exactly she wanted to apply herself to. She would also work as a columnist for a period of three consecutive seasons at the ‘The Chosun Ilbo’, one of South Korea’s largest newspapers.
Still writing to this very day she continues to make a name for herself both online as well as off in the world of literature. Living in New York City with her husband Christopher Duffy, who is half-Japanese, they both take care of their son Sam. With her culture being a huge part of her life she continues to write about herself and her heritage, something which will continue for many years to come.
Making her debut onto the literary scene back in 2007, she made a fairly large impact with her first novel ‘Free Food for Millionaires’. Establishing a lot of her themes and ideas generally, it managed to set the tone for a lot of her material that was to follow. She also wrote short-stories too, the first one coming out back in 2004 titled ‘Axis of Happiness’, which was released alongside ‘Motherland’.
Not focused on writing series as such she concentrates on articulating herself and her experiences growing up in the United States. Looking at her Korean heritage she examines what this means and how it has shaped not only her, but others like her also experiencing it. This then provides a unique and nuanced perspective that is unlike any other, giving an insight into an otherwise unseen lifestyle.
Winning awards for her work she is not without critical acclaim either, having won Narrative Magazine’s ‘Narrative Prize’ back in 2004 for her short-story ‘Axis of Happiness’. She would also go on to have her debut novel featured as on of the top ten books of 2007 by a number of different publications as well. With both critical and commercial success she was fast on her way to becoming a definite author to watch, something which she reiterated with her 2017 second novel.
An articulate and highly proficient writer she is known for writing in a clear and extremely accessible style. Interviewed by highly renowned outlets such as NPR, she has a very visible media presence as well, always willing to share her stories and her work. She has also made a name for herself writing a number of non-fiction articles for various different publications, along with plenty of essays too.
Currently still writing she has also worked lecturing extensively on the subject at prestigious universities such as Columbia. She also makes a number of appearances throughout the media as well, being a clear and highly vocal practitioner of her craft. This is expected to continue on into the foreseeable future, as her writing career shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Free Food for Millionaires
Initially published in 2007 on the 2nd of July this was the first novel to come from Min Jin Lee as an author. Setting her up and establishing her name as a writer, this title was originally released through the ‘Warner Books’ publishing label to much acclaim. It would also serve as a departure into the long-form novel and away from short-stories, showing a clear development in Min Jin Lee’s career.
After gaining a scholarship to Princeton Casey Han is leaving her old life behind as her Korean immigrant parents remain working in a Manhattan dry cleaners. During her time at Princeton she develops a number of expensive tastes and equally expensive habits whilst studying there. Later returning to New York City she quickly discovers the disparity between the classes, along with the cultural shifts and how it’s affecting her own identity. Will she be able to navigate this brave new world? Can she sustain from the habits she’s picked up? What will become of free food for millionaires?
Originally released through the ‘Grand Central Publishing’ label in 2017, this was the second book from Min Jin Lee. Brought out on the 7th of February, it marked a long wait for many of her then eager fans, showing a clear development from the second one. With many of her now familiar themes it manages to draw upon her own life and experiences once again, giving a unique and nuanced take on Korean culture through the ages.
Starting out in the early 1900s, this sees Sunja as the prized daughter of family that is well regarded yet poor. Falling pregnant her lover then deserts her leaving her proud family now shamed by the cultural standards of the time. It is then that a tubercular minister arrives from Japan and offers his hand in marriage, taking her back to his own country. How will this affect the family and their legacy? Where will the journey take them whilst now in exile? What will become of Pachinko?
|Free Food for Millionaires||(2007)|