Marie Myung-Ok Lee

At 9, when I inherited an old typewriter from my older brother, I was so enamored of how “professional” the words appeared before my eyes that I wrote my first book — about horses — and I think I sold it to my parents for a quarter. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was to write and publish stories.

new york foundation for the arts fiction fellow

north korean guide ml author photo.jpg



Somebody’s Daughter is that rare book, that rare page-turner, the one you cannot put down, the one you will suspend washing the laundry for or cooking breakfast for. It is the novel you will open and read in one urgent breath as you take in the storyteller’s compelling tale of lives felt long after the book’s end as you turn off the light to sleep.
— Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Her colorful characters crackle and pop off the page . . . A grown-up gem of a novel where joy mingles with sorrow, and heartbreak is laced with hope
Booklist Starred Review

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is an acclaimed Korean-American writer and author of the novel Somebody's Daughter (Beacon Press, 2006). Her next novel, The Evening Hero, on the future of medicine, immigration, and North Korea, is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster. She is one of fifty journalists who’s been granted a visa to North Korea since the Korean War.  She was the first Fulbright Scholar to Korea in creative writing and has received many honors for her work, including an O. Henry honorable mention, the Best Book Award from the Friends of American Writers, and a Rhode Island State Council on the Arts fiction fellowship and is a current New York Foundation for the Arts fiction fellow. She has also written many successful Young Adult novels as Marie G. Lee.

Her stories and essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Guernica, and The Guardian, among others. Her work frequently engages with immigration, with the effects of partition on Koreans and the Korean diaspora, and the hardship her mother endured to escape her war-torn homeland for a better life in the US. Thinking about the effects of growing up with the shadow of her mother’s past, and as the only Korean family in an all white town in rural Minnesota, Lee notes, “As our past and present American attitudes toward immigration have shown, countries and their people have differing ways they receive their fellow humans in need. Children, we tell ourselves, are resilient. What we don’t think about is that one’s worldview becomes formed in this period, and early experiences, even if not understood, maybe especially if not fully understood, become part of the things carried into adulthood, that haunt a person, every day. “

Lee graduated from Brown University and was a Writer in Residence there, before she began teaching at Columbia University's Writing Division. She has been a Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow and has served as a judge for the National Book Award and the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. In addition, Ms. Lee is a founder of the Asian American Writers' Workshop. She lives in New York City.




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