Min Jin Lee

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For the go player, see Lee Minjin.
This is a Korean name; the family name is Lee.
Min Jin Lee
Hangul 이민진
Revised Romanization Yi Minjin
McCune–Reischauer Yi Minjin

Min Jin Lee (born 1968) is a Korean American writer whose work frequently deals with Korean American topics.[1] She is the author of the novel Free Food for Millionaires.


Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. Lee's family came to the United States in 1976, when she was seven years old. She grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, New York.[1] Her parents owned a wholesale jewelry store there. She studied history at Yale College and law at Georgetown University Law Center. She also worked as a corporate lawyer in New York for several years before becoming a writer. She lived in Japan for four years from 2007 to 2011. Lee lives in New York with her son, Sam, and her husband, Christopher Duffy, who is half-Japanese.

Lee also served three consecutive seasons as a "Morning Forum" English-language columnist of South Korea's newspaper Chosun Ilbo.[2]

She has also lectured about writing, literature, and politics at Columbia, Tufts, Loyola Marymount University, Stanford, Johns Hopkins (SAIS), University of Connecticut, Boston College, Hamilton College, Harvard Law School, Yale University, Ewha University, Waseda University, the American School in Japan, World Women’s Forum, the Tokyo American Center of the U.S. Embassy and the Asia Society in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong.[3]


Lee's short story Axis of Happiness won the 2004 Narrative Prize from Narrative Magazine. Another short story by Lee, Motherland, about a family of Koreans in Japan was published in The Missouri Review and won The Peden Prize for Best Short Story. Her short stories have been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts.[4]

Her debut novel Free Food for Millionaires was published in 2007. It was named one of the Top 10 Novels of the Year by The Times,[5] The Times of London, NPR's Fresh Air, USA Today, a notable novel by the San Francisco Chronicle,[6] a New York Times Editor's Choice,[7] was a selection for the Wall Street Journal Juggler Book Club,[8] and a No. 1 Book Sense pick. The novel was also published in the U.K. by Random House in 2007, Italy by Einaudi and in South Korea by Image Box Publishing. The book has also been featured on online periodicals such as The Page 99 Test,[9] and Largehearted Boy.[10]

Her next novel, entitled Pachinko, will also be set in Japan. Its release date is February 7, 2017, from Grand Central Publishing.[11]


Lee has also published non-fiction in periodicals such as the Times of London, the New York Times Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, the Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine.


Lee has written a number of reviews. She most recently wrote a review of Toni Morrison's Home in the Times of London,[12] and also a review in the Times of London of March Was Made of Yarn, edited by David Karashima and Elmer Luke, a collection of essays, stories, poems and manga made by Japanese artists and citizens in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[13] She also wrote Times of London reviews of Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies[14] and Jodi Picoult's Wonder Woman: Love and Murder.[15]


Her essays include Will, anthologized in Breeder – Real Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers (Seal Press Books, 2001) and Pushing Away the Plate, in To Be Real (edited by Rebecca Walker) (Doubleday, 1995). Lee also published a piece in the New York Times Magazine entitled Low Tide, about her observations of the survivors of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[16] She wrote another essay entitled Up Front: After the Earthquake in Vogue, reflecting upon her experiences living in Japan with her family after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.[17] Lee has also written two other essays in Vogue, including Weighing In (2008) and Crowning Glory (2007).

An essay entitled "Reading the World" that Lee wrote appears in the March 26, 2010 issue of Travel + Leisure.[18] She also wrote an article profiling the cuisine and work of Tokyo chef Seiji Yamamoto in Food & Wine.[19] She has also written a piece for the Barnes & Noble review entitled, Sex, Debt, and Revenge: Balzac’s Cousin Bette,[20]

Her interviews and essays have also been profiled in online periodicals such as Chekhov's Mistress (My Other Village: Middlemarch by George Eliot),[21] Moleskinerie (Pay Yourself First),[22] and ABC News (Biblical Illiteracy or Reading the Bestseller).[23]

Her other essays have been anthologized in The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works, Why I’m A Democrat (Ed. Susan Mulcahy), One Big Happy Family, Sugar in my Bowl and Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time.


Short stories[edit]



She received the NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) Fellowship for Fiction, the Peden Prize from The Missouri Review for Best Story, and The Narrative Prize for New and Emerging Writer.[24]

While at Yale, she was awarded both the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction.[25]


  1. ^ a b "Min Jin Lee", KQED Arts, retrieved 2011-09-29 
  2. ^ MinJinLee.com, Being A Columnist, http://minjinlee.com/media/being_a_columnistchosun_ilbo
  3. ^ MinJinLee.com, About, http://minjinlee.com/about/
  4. ^ Ginny Too, Interview: Min Jin Lee, Asian American Writer's Workshop, http://www.aaww.org/events_interviews_lee.html
  5. ^ Saunders, Kate (2007-11-30), The Times Christmas choice: fiction, London: The Times, retrieved 2009-01-03
  6. ^ Villalon, Oscar (2007-12-23), Bay Area authors' books among best of '07, San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2009-01-03, http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/Bay-Area-authors-books-among-best-of-07-3299646.php
  7. ^ Politkovskaya, Anna (2007-07-08), Editor's Choice, New York Times, retrieved 2009-01-03, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/books/review/0708bb-hardcover.html?ref=review
  8. ^ Schaefer Munoz, Sara (2008-01-22), Free Food for Millionaires: When Everyone Else is a Big Spender, Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2009-01-03, http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/01/22/free-food-for-millionaires-when-everyone-else-is-a-big-spender/
  9. ^ http://page99test.blogspot.com/2007/07/min-jin-lees-free-food-for-millionaires.html
  10. ^ Largeheartedboy.com, Min Jin Lee – Free Food for Millionaires, http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2007/06/book_notes_min.html
  11. ^ https://www.minjinlee.com/books/pachinko/
  12. ^ Min Jin Lee, Home by Toni Morrison, Times of London, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/fiction/article3386800.ece
  13. ^ Min Jin Lee, March Was Made of Yarn: edited by David Karashima and Elmer Luke, Times of London, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/non-fiction/article3344401.ece
  14. ^ Min Jin Lee, Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick, Times of London, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/fiction/article3053266.ece
  15. ^ Min Jin Lee, Wonder Woman: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult, Times of London, http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article3210539.ece
  16. ^ Min Jin Lee, Low Tide, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/magazine/japan-tsunami-survivors.html?_r=0
  17. ^ Min Jin Lee, Up Front: After the Earthquake, Vogue, http://www.vogue.com/culture/article/upfront-japan/#1
  18. ^ Min Jin lee, Reading the World, http://minjinlee.com/images/uploads/Journal.pdf
  19. ^ Min Jin Lee, Why Star Chefs Revere Seiji Yamamoto, http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/why-star-chefs-revere-seiji-yamamoto
  20. ^ Min Jin Lee, Barnes & Noble Review, Sex, Debt, and Revenge: Balzac’s Cousin Bette, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bn-review/note.asp?note=16288150
  21. ^ Min Jin Lee, My Other Village: Middlemarch by George Eliot (excerpt)http://minjinlee.com/writing/archive/my_other_village_middlemarch_by_george_eliot
  22. ^ Min Jin Lee, Pay Yourself First, Moleskinerie, http://www.moleskinerie.com/2007/06/guest_essay_pay.html
  23. ^ Min Jin Lee, Biblical Illiteracy or Reading the Bestseller, http://abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=3289585&page=1
  24. ^ Min Jin Lee, About the Author, http://www.minjinlee.com/author/about_min/
  25. ^ Hachette Book Group USA, Author: Min Jin Lee, http://narrativemagazine.com/405/min.htm

External links[edit]