AWP is Thrilled to Announce Min Jin Lee as #AWP23 Conference & Bookfair Keynote Speaker

August 18, 2022

Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

AWP is thrilled to announce award-winning author and writer Min Jin Lee as the 2023 AWP Conference & Bookfair Keynote Speaker.

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 BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was a selection for “Now Read This,” the joint book club of PBS News Hour and The New York Times. It was on over seventy-five best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN. Pachinko has been translated into over thirty-five 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 Air, USA Today, and a national bestseller. Free Food for Millionaires is being adapted as a Netflix television series with Lee penning the screen adaptation, and with Alan Yang serv­ing as non-writing executive producer

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.

Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation,” and appears on the Frederick Douglass 200 list of people who best embody his spirit.

Min Jin Lee 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. From 2019–2022, she will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College. She was inducted in the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame, the Bronx High School of Science Hall of Fame, and the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. In 2022 she was awarded South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature. She serves as a trustee of PEN America, as a director of the Authors Guild, and on the National Advisory Board of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard. She is currently at work on Name Recognition: A Memoir of Visibility and Voice and is researching and writing her third novel, American Hagwon, which will complete “The Koreans” trilogy.

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