Through celebrated novels, essays, and short stories, Min Jin Lee‘s writing has shed some much-needed light on the Korean immigrant experience. Her 2007 debut, Free Food for Millionaires, follows families of Korean Americans fighting for social mobility in Manhattan, while her sophomore sensation Pachinko traces the Korean diaspora in Japan over the fate of four generations. In both, Lee centers the stories of women, highlighting their resilience over experiences of racism and misogyny.
In a book list for Electric Lit’s Read More Women series, Lee shared five of her favorite books not written by men. From Roxane Gay’s breathtaking memoir to the non-fiction essays of Ann Patchett, find her reading list below.
“Ewing is a phenomenal writer who has researched and written about modern problems in education in light of history. As far as I’m concerned, fixing education inequities is right up there with securing clean water, defending free press, and protecting air quality. She is also a terrific poet and critic, and what is evident in her book, is the vastness of her imagination applied to the very difficult problems we have today in public education. Ewing tackles racism, inequality, statistics, social policies, and uses her great mind for the good of children, our American children, and this book is a great tool for the urgent changes we need to make.” -MJL
“I read Gay’s memoir in two days, and I stopped everything to read it, because her story meant so much to me. I’d had a very bad eating disorder in college, and her story made so much sense intellectually. Gay is one of America’s great writers, and I was astonished and grateful to learn how our bodies hold our histories and how our minds have the power to release them. This book is important and beautiful.” -MJL
The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel by Robin Marantz Henig
“Henig is a knock-out writer, who has published numerous books and articles that are nothing short of master-class. I’ll read whatever she writes because she is brave and badass smart. My favorite book of hers is The Monk in the Garden, a biography of Gregor Mendel, a monk who studied pea plants and is known as the father of genetics. Mendel never got his due while he was alive, but Henig fixes that for the record with a stirring and vivid biography in her trademark clear-eyed prose.” -MJL
“Patchett writes amazing fiction. Very amazing fiction. She also writes supremely amazing essays, which make me weep. When I think of the fine essayists Didion, Woolf, and Baldwin, I also think of Patchett. You’re going to cry when you read this collection; however, my eye doctor says crying is good for your eyes.” -MJL
“I love biographies, and this one of Washington Roebling is one of my very favorites. Wagner, a native New Yorker who lives in England, writes excellent fiction and non-fiction, as well as criticism. She wrote one of my most beloved short story collections of all time, Gravity, and the reason why this biography is so top-notch is because Wagner tells a terrific story of the birth of a bridge, as well as a gripping story of a son who had a difficult father and a gifted wife — all with the grace and deft hand of a very fine fiction writer.” -MJL
(via Electric Lit)