Min Jin Lee is a Korean bestselling author whom most of her novels focus on the Korean American topics. She was born in South Korea, and her family relocated to the United States in 1976 when she was seven years of age. She spent her teenage years in Elmhurst, Queens, New York where her parents operated a wholesale jewelry store. Lee attended Yale College where she pursued history and later studied law at Georgetown University. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a corporate lawyer. Lee is a resident of New York, where she stays with her loving husband Christopher Duffy and their son Sam.
Order of Min Jin Lee Standalone Novels
Lee has also lectured about politics, writing and literature at Tufts, Columbia, Loyola Marymount University, John Hopkins, Boston College, Yale University, Hong Kong, Waseda University, Harvard Law University and many other institutions.
The author’s stand-alone novels include Pachinko published in 2017 and Free Food for Millionaires (2004). Besides the standalone novels, she has published short stories such as Motherland (2004) and Axis of Happiness (2004). Lee has also published several non-fictions in periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Food & Wine, Times of London and Conde Nast Traveler. The author has also published several reviews.
BEST MIN JIN LEE BOOKS
These are two best books written by the Korean bestselling author Min Jin Lee, Pachinko (2017) and Free Food for Millionaires (2007).
Pachinko: This book introduces the readers to Sunja, the daughter of the owner of a boarding house in Korea. It is revealed to the readers that she experiences chills while she was growing her secret child. If only she had agreed and remained the mistress to the wealthy man in Japan for whom she got pregnant with- she would have been taken care of, and any needs of her child would have been met. However, Sunja could not agree to be the mistress of a man married and with three children and she could not imagine spending the rest of her life with a man who has another family.
We then meet Isak, a man who offers to marry her and raise her unborn child as his own. After they hold some conversations, Sunja finally decides that Isak is not a fool as her mother thought but rather he is an angel.
Isak makes one request, he is a stronger believer of the Korean Christian faith, and he and Sunja relocate to Japan where they would spend the rest of their lives. Isak was to become a pastor in Japan, but as Korean immigrants in Japan, Isak, Sunja and their newborn child Noa face lots of challenges while in Japan. They are discriminated against by the local Japanese and Sunja finds it not easy to be a pastor’s wife and Koreans must be on their best behaviors and if one messes up, he/she messes up for each Korean in Japan, and one bad Christian ruins it all for rest of the Christians everywhere.
Sunja has to be perfect, and always stay on her best behavior. Being a Korean, a pastor’s wife and of Christian faith, she had tri-strikes against her since the moment she set foot in Japan. Once in Japan, she faces many challenges and struggles- finding work was not easy for her, her family lived in racism, poverty.
Reading this great read, you will see that there are two stories going side by side, a political and historical story between the cultures and the relations between Japan and Korean from the 1990’s to the present day- and focusing mostly when Korea was under Japanese occupation. The other side of the narrative is the personal family story. The author has written a lofty line soap opera about how people treat one another, neglect and finally save each other and in Pachinko presents a message of hope and love.
Free Food for Millionaires: Casey Han’s four years stay at Princeton offered her many opportunities but no job and some terrible habits. Her parents who reside in Queens are of Korean origin and work in a dry cleaner while desperately trying to retain their identity and culture as well. On the other hand, their daughter joined a rarified America society through scholarship.
Soon after Casey’s graduation, she notices the reality of having extravagant habits without the means of sustaining them. As she navigates the streets of Manhattan, we can see her life as well as the lives all people she interacts with.
Free Food for Millionaires offers the exploration of the complex layers of the lives we live, the society and people in our lives.