About

Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation (2018) and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard (2018-2019). Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times Bestseller, Pachinko was also a Top 10 Books of the Year for BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was a selection for “Now Read This,” the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. It was on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN. Pachinko will be translated into 27 languages. Lee’s debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, USA Today, and a national bestseller. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, One Story, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times of London, and Wall Street Journal. She served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea. In 2018, Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation” and a Frederick Douglass 200. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. She will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College from 2019-2022.

Extended Bio:

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017, a USA Today Top 10 Books of 2017, an American Library Association Notable Book, and an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads. It is a New York Times Bestseller. Pachinko was also a Top 10 Books of the Year for BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Public Library, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Chicago Public Library. Pachinko was a selection for “Now Read This,” the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. It was on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, CNN, Vox, History Channel, Esquire, Financial Times, Amazon, The Boston Globe, Minnesota Public Radio, Literary Hub, New Statesman, BuzzFeed, South China Morning Post, The Millions, Goodreads, BookPage, The Rumpus, Southern Living, Town & Country, Book Riot, Bustle, Financial Review, Interpreter, Refinery29, Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, WBUR On Point, The Brooklyn Rail, Read It Forward, Whitcoulls Top 100, Entropy, Irish Independent, RTE, and The Irish Times. Pachinko will be translated into 27 languages.

Lee’s debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air and USA Today. It was a No. 1 Book Sense Pick, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Wall Street Journal Juggle Book Club selection, and a national bestseller.

She is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University named her a Frederick Douglass 200 for her work as a writer. In 2018, Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation.” Lee has received the NYFA Fellowship for Fiction, the Peden Prize from The Missouri Review for Best Story, the Narrative Prize for New and Emerging Writer, and the Reading Women Award.

Her fiction has been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts and has appeared most recently in One Story. Her writings about culture, politics, books, travel and food have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times of London, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Literary Hub, Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine. Her personal essays have been anthologized in To Be Real, Breeder, The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works, One Big Happy Family, Sugar in My Bowl, and Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time. She served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea.

Lee has spoken about writing, politics, film and literature at various institutions and organizations, including Columbia University, French Institute Alliance Francaise, Amherst College, University of Michigan MFA, The Center for Fiction, Tufts, Loyola Marymount University, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins SAIS, University of Connecticut, Boston College, Hamilton College, Hunter College of New York, Harvard University, Harvard Law School, Yale University, Ewha University, Waseda University, the American School in Japan, World Women’s Forum, Korean Community Center (NJ), the Hay Literary Festival (UK), Hong Kong International Literary Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, the Tokyo American Center of the U.S. Embassy, the Asia House (UK), and the Asia Society in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong. In 2017, she won the Literary Death Match (Brooklyn/Episode 8), and she is a proud alumna of Women of Letters (Public Theater).

On July 10, 2018, she had the unique honor of being a Double Jeopardy clue in the “Literary Types” category for $1200 on the game show Jeopardy: “Korean-born Min Jin Lee wrote a 2017 book with this Japanese pinball game as its title,” to which the contestant Becky answered correctly in the interrogative, “What is Pachinko?”

She was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to Queens, New York with her family in 1976 when she was seven years old. Lee is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and was inducted into the Bronx Science Hall of Fame. At Yale College, she majored in History and was awarded the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. She attended law school at Georgetown University and worked as a lawyer for several years in New York prior to writing full time.

From 2007 to 2011, Lee lived in Tokyo where she researched and wrote Pachinko. As of the fall of 2018, she will be based in Boston, where she will be working on American Hagwon, the third diaspora novel of “The Koreans” trilogy. From 2019-2022, she will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College.