In this episode of The Archive Project, novelist Min Jin Lee discusses her writing craft and inspiring personal journey to become a professional writer. With warm humor, Lee honestly opens up about her struggle to succeed—as a Korean-born American immigrant battling a life-threatening chronic illness—within the publishing industry, and details her perseverance in the face of countless rejection letters. A life-long reader and lover of books, Lee shines as she speaks of the necessity of the arts as a vehicle to empower those who are disempowered.
“I had already failed for such a long time, but I still cared about writing something really beautiful. No matter who I was, and no matter the consequences, it was still within my power to write about the people who fascinated me.”
“I am a great reader. It is that identity that I still cling to today.”
Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. The San Francisco Chronicle lauds it as “beautiful… Lee’s sweeping four-generation saga of a Korean family is an extraordinary epic.” It was on over 75 best books of the year lists, and will be translated into 27 languages. Her debut novel, 2007’s Free Food for Millionaires, was also a national best seller as well as a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, and USA Today. Lee is a recipient of fellowships in fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard.