Short Cuts: Marie Myung-Ok Lee to speak at Duluth Library Foundation event
The lauded Korean American writer, author of "The Evening Hero," will participate in an Olga Walker Awards conversation moderated by Linda LeGarde Grover.
DULUTH — The Duluth Library Foundation has announced that author Marie Myung-Ok Lee will be the featured guest at the upcoming sixth annual Olga Walker Awards and Author Event. This year's award ceremony will take place at Duluth's Greysolon Ballroom at noon Feb. 26.
Lee grew up in Hibbing, daughter of immigrants who fled from North Korea to South Korea before moving to the United States. "My parents wanted to be really 'patriotic' and kind of disavowed Korea and never talked about it, so I grew up not really knowing who I was and how I fit into the grand scheme of things," Lee told The Millions books, arts and culture publication last year. "I think figuring out who I am is why I write — to find out!"
Her books include the 1992 novel "Finding My Voice," which literary historian Gabrielle Moss described as "the first teen novel released by a major publisher with a contemporary Asian American protagonist by an Asian American author." A founder of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, Lee is the author most recently of the "The Evening Hero" (2021), which the New York Times called "a soulful, melodic, rhapsodic novel."
"Finding My Voice," which is set in the Northland, centers on a teen daughter of Korean American immigrant parents. Lee has acknowledged the novel's basis in her own experiences. "I don’t feel that the themes are ever really going to go away, particularly things like racism," Lee told Sahan Journal in 2021. Lee's new novel also incorporates a local setting.
"What drew me to Marie was learning that she actually grew up in Hibbing," said Erin Kreeger, the Duluth Library Foundation's executive director. "She wrote this book, 'The Evening Hero,' that features a Korean immigrant who moves to northern Minnesota after the Korean War."
Kreeger continued, "her book touches on what I think is an interesting conversation for Duluth and our region and community as a whole, about the impacts of war, immigration and the experience of a person of color (on) the Range."
The Feb. 26 event will include remarks by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, a buffet lunch and the recognition of "individuals whose generous support has made a difference at the Duluth Public Library," according to the foundation's website. Local author Linda LeGarde Grover will moderate a conversation with Lee, who will then sign books for attendees.
For tickets and information, see duluthlibraryfoundation.org.