National Book Award Finalist Min Jin Lee’s latest book, Pachinko, charts the saga of four generations of a poor immigrant Korean family.
Min Jin Lee recently visited Reading Group Choices to read and discuss her work with an audience. Lee took the time to join us for an interview, sharing life-changing books and the best part of giving readings.
Reading Group Choices: What book(s) changed your life?
Min Jin Lee: Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
RGC: What book(s) are coming out this year that you’re looking forward to reading?
MJL: Burning Girl by Claire Messud and Sid Sanford Lives! by Daniel Ford
RGC: What books are currently stacked next to your bed/on your desk/in your pile-to-read?
MJL: A Dream Between Two Rivers by K.L. Pereira and easily about twenty others.
RGC: What book did you most recently recommend to someone else?
MJL: Chief Engineer by Erica Wagner
RGC: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
MJL: Betsy & Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace
RGC: Who are your favorite writers?
MJL: George Eliot, G. Flaubert, Edith Wharton, Erica Wagner, Charlotte Bronte, James Baldwin, Ann Patchett, Tolstoy, Meg Wolitzer, Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and Sinclair Lewis
RGC: Do you commonly use a word or phrase that is specific to a place you lived/from childhood/from family that you don’t hear often in day-to-day conversation?
MJL: Gosaeng: it means suffering in Korean. You asked.
RGC: What book/s could you never part with? Think “stranded-on-a-desert-island” books.
MJL: The Bible. Really.
RGC: Were you ever embarrassed about a book you loved?
RGC: What fictional character do you most identify with? Why?
MJL: None. I know. Weird.
RGC: Do you have a favorite musician or genre of music?
MJL: Not really. If I had to say, it might be Glenn Gould, classical (esp. piano) or Chet Baker or Helen Merrill (jazz). I like some hip hop, R&B, pop, gospel, and rock, too, though, but I am pretty ignorant about music.
RGC: Is there a creator who is doing something you find amazing?
RGC: What do you wish you knew more about?
RGC: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
MJL: Robin Williams.
RGC: Vinyl, cassette, CD or digital? Typewriter, notebook, tablet or computer? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or none of the above? Sweet or savory?
MJL: Digital; computer; Insta; savory.
RGC: What is your most meaningful place?
MJL: Queens, NY
RGC: What’s your favorite bookstore?
MJL: In NYC, the Strand and the Corner Bookstore.
RGC: Can you share a favorite line from a creative work (book/play/film/song)?
MJL: “Don’t mind if I fall apart, there’s more room in a broken heart.” (Carly Simon)
RGC: What do you enjoy most about doing a reading or talking about your book?
MJL: I love Q&A. I know. Weird.
RGC: What is something you know about or have heard about Madison or Wisconsin?
MJL: I want to go to the Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.