‘Women writers have to take humiliation very well’

Róisín Meets Podcast: Author Min Jin Lee on being rejected and taking her time to write

"I think that if you're a writer and a woman then you have to take humiliation very well," says author Min Jin Lee.

It took the Korean-American writer nearly 30 years to bring her latest novel Pachinko to life, coming ten years after her first book, Free Food For Millionaires, and having been in the works since 1989.

“I have accepted the fact that I don’t work very quickly, that I have been rejected a lot as a writer and that what I do is unusual, so I just have to accept the terms and that it’s going to take longer. It is what it is,” she tells Róisín Ingle, on the latest Róisín Meets podcast.

Pachinko is already a bestseller, a research-heavy saga spanning almost a century and covering four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they battle unrelenting prejudice.


The story moves from Korea at the beginning of the 20th century, to Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama, telling the often ignored history of the ethnic-Korean community in Japan

Lee’s own family immigrated to America from Seoul when she was seven years old and she grew up in the Queens area of New York. She still lives in the city and says people there still haven’t quite gotten over the shock of Trump’s election.

“It’s all people talk about, our heads are still spinning, especially in New York… we’re all going, my god, how did we get it so wrong? We all got it wrong.”

Also in the podcast, Lee talks about why she is still grateful for her American citizenship “even now with Trump”, why immigrants suffer in advanced economies and how even Japanese people will tell you how difficult it is to be different in their culture.

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, published by Grand Central Publishing, is out now

To listen to the full conversation between Min Jin Lee and Róisín Ingle, go to iTunes, Soundcloud, or your preferred podcast app