EAT, DRINK & BE LITERARY AT BAM CAFE
Presented in Partnership with the National Book Foundation
MIN JIN LEE
MIN JIN LEE, a writer of enormous power concentrates mostly on topics such as immigration,
history of oppression, assimilation and migration. She says that she is a classic introvert who reads
and reads a lot which creates a great feel for humanity especially the humanity which is mostly oppressed. She states that, "In the history of oppression there is blunt trust in the person incharge."
She focuses on diaspora and human rights. That creates a sense and an obligation in any sensitive
writer or scholar to have their pen on the pulse of human condition and Min Jin Lee certainly has that
sensitivity and emapathy.
"My art has to reflect the moral justice that I believe in. I am interested in creating rdical empathy through art. That's the little task that I set for myself."
And I believe it's not a little task, it's a huge undertaking.
In Today's materialistic world, the word empathy and moral justice seem foreign.
Most of the people don't recognize those important words and a writer who doesn't deal with human condition which contains a sea of difficulties such as poverty, abandonment, lack of education, health,
racism, otherness of the outsider who remains an immigrant for ever after decades of migration struggling to be part of society as a normal person, that writer is not deep enough or inclusive enough
or sensitive enough and is not worth paying attention.
Min Jin Lee is obviously not that kind of a writer. She is compassionate, concerned, sympathetic
and aware of the difficulties of survival of the people of diaspora. She is sensitive towards different religions. She told us the other night what's missing in secondary education. "In our secondary
education something is lacking in USA. I am concerned about the lack of understanding of different religions especially Islam and I think if they have this subject as mendatory in secondary school it will help trmendously."
Just her concern for this topic tells us how blessed we are to have writers ike Ms. Lee.
She is amazingly funny as well. A writer who makes the invisible, very visible. A writer who has the gift of feeling aother groups struggle of survival with equal amount of pathos and humor and how one can taste their culture throgh food. After listening to her sentenes about,"Kimchi" I am now hungry for it and must go and taste it soon "I like my people and I want to write about them."
How wonderful is that? And how deeply honest. This kind of simple, clean and effective language
makes a writer precious and I found her precious and special.
Min Jin Lee is a lawyer as well. Her debut novel was, Free Food for Millionaires which won many awards and her novel, Pachinko, a finalist for the National Book Award and is Top 10 Books of the year for the New York Times. She is a Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellow for 2018-19
In her question answer section she mentioned a novel named, Dictee by another Korean writer and
it was such an intersting coincident because a marathon reading of the whole novel was done this March at Performance Space NY in one day with at least 45 readers and I happened to be one of the
readers. Amazing. The author of Dictee was sadly murdered at a young age at the Puck building.
Two very different styles, two very different writers but the compassion and their skill to make their words so visual, powerful, effective and thought provoking is exactly the same. I told her about this
reading of Dictee and she expressed lot of admiration and affection for the novel.
I am thrilled that I had the chance to hear three wonderful writers at this great event, Eat, Drink & Be
Literary and I shall wait for more next year, Inshallah (God willing)