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Author of “Pachinko,” Min Jin Lee, Speaksat the University of Utah 

Presented by the Tanner Humanities Center, Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m., UMFA 

by Missy Weeks


Min Jin Lee as she looks into the camera with a slight smile on her face

Min Jin Lee

Salt Lake City, UT“Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage,” said Min Jin Lee in her novel, "Pachinko," a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2017. 

The University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center will host Min Jin Lee, author of “Free Food for Millionaires” and editor of “The Best American Short Stories 2023,” as part of the Author Meets Readers series at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Tuesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. Lee will be in conversation with David Roh, professor of English at the U. A book signing hosted by The King’s English will follow with Lee’s novels available for purchase.  

“When I think of Min Jin Lee’s work, I think of scale,” said Roh. “She works in the tradition of Victorian novelists, who took the intimate and interior lives of families and individuals and projected them onto a canvas as large as any gallery wall. By similarly framing Korean American and Korean diasporic stories and placing them center stage, her capacious writing finally gives them the scope and space they deserve.” 

Lee’s work explores race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, and identity of displaced people. Her second novel, “Pachinko,” was a finalist for the National Book Award, one of the New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2017, and adapted into an Apple TV+ Original Series. The saga depicts the lives of a Korean family across four generations as they migrate to Japan in the early 1900s.   

“Min Jin Lee is an extraordinarily smart writer,” said Hollis Robbins, dean of the College of Humanities. “Especially about the disconnect between generations, how children grow up internalizing the intensity of their parents and then, if they are successful, raise children more interested in meaning than survival, as she has said. She is also openly a churchgoer and bible reader, perhaps unlike the stereotypical bestselling fiction writer. Her writing reflects deep, deep thinking about humanity.” 

In 2019, Lee was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame. She is a former Guggenheim and Harvard Radcliff Institute fellow and is a Writer-in-Residence currently teaching fiction and essay writing at Amherst College. Her short works and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, The Guardian, Vogue, The Times of London, Condé Nast Traveler, and Food & Wine.


About The Tanner Humanities Center  

The Tanner Humanities Center advances humanities exploration and engagement through public outreach, academic research, and educational enrichment. Theseactivities reflect a vision of the humanities as relevant, stimulating, and cutting-edge, and essential for developing critical thinking, tolerance, and respect on campus and in the community. 



Missy Weeks, Tanner Humanities Center |801-581-8879

Published March 8, 2024

Last Updated: 3/8/24