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Award-winning & Bestselling Novelist and Essayist


Min Jin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to Queens, New York with her family when she was seven years old. She studied history at Yale College and law at Georgetown University. Lee practiced law for two years before turning to writing. She teaches fiction and essay writing at Amherst College and lives in New York City.

Lee is a writer whose award-winning fiction explores the intersection of race, ethnicity, immigration, class, religion, gender, and identity of a diasporic people. Pachinko, her second novel, is an epic story which follows a Korean family who migrates to Japan; it is the first novel written for an adult, English-speaking audience about the Korean-Japanese people. Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, 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 the 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 has been translated into over 35 languages and is an international bestseller. President Barack Obama selected Pachinko for his recommended reading list, calling it, “a powerful story about resilience and compassion.”  

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 AirUSA 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, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, The Times of London, Food & Wine, Vogue and The Wall Street Journal. She served as a columnist for the Chosun Ilbo, the leading newspaper of South Korea. She recently edited The Best American Short Stories 2023 (Mariner Books, October 17, 2023).

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.

Min Jin Lee is a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College. She is a recipient of fiction fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College, was inducted in the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame, and the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. She has also been awarded South Korea's Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, the Bucheon Diaspora Literary Award, and the Samsung Happiness for Tomorrow Award for Creativity from South Korea. Recently, Lee was the subject of Pachinko and Min Jin Lee, a documentary produced by KBS a public broadcasting service in South Korea. She also serves as a trustee of PEN America and as a director of the Authors Guild. Lee is currently at work on Name Recognition: A Memoir of Visibility and Voice, and is researching and writing her third novel, American Hagwon, the next book in “The Koreans” series.


Min Jin Lee's website