MARIE MYUNG-OK LEE, author of dazzling debut THE EVENING HERO, in conversation with acclaimed writer GISH JEN!

Monday, June 13, 2022 - 7:00pm

Acclaimed journalist, scholar, and YA author Marie Myung-Ok Lee launches her debut adult novel, The Evening Hero, a sweeping, lyrical novel that follows a Korean immigrant pursuing the American dream who must confront the secrets of his past or risk watching the world he’s worked so hard to build come crumbling down. Marie will be in conversation with master storyteller Gish Jen

Registration for this virtual program is on Eventbrite. A general admission ticket to access the event is $5; a ticket that includes the purchase of THE EVENING HERO waives that fee. Registration closes at 5:00 pm on the day of the event.

Dr. Yungman Kwak is in the twilight of his life. Every day for the last fifty years, he has brushed his teeth, slipped on his shoes, and headed to Horse Breath’s General Hospital, where, as an obstetrician, he treats the women and babies of the small rural Minnesota town he chose to call home.

This was the life he longed for. The so-called American dream. He immigrated from Korea after the Korean War, forced to leave his family, ancestors, village, and all that he knew behind. But his life is built on a lie. And one day, a letter arrives that threatens to expose it.

Yungman’s life is thrown into chaos—the hospital abruptly closes, his wife refuses to spend time with him, and his son is busy investing in a struggling health start-up. Yungman faces a choice—he must choose to hide his secret from his family and friends or confess and potentially lose all he’s built. He begins to question the very assumptions on which his life is built—the so-called American dream, with the abject failure of its healthcare system, patient and neighbors who perpetuate racism, a town flawed with infrastructure, and a history that doesn’t see him in it.

Toggling between the past and the present, Korea and America, The Evening Hero is a sweeping, moving, darkly comic novel about a man looking back at his life and asking big questions about what is lost and what is gained when immigrants leave home for new shores. 

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is an acclaimed Korean American writer and author of the young adult novel Finding my Voice, thought to be one of the first contemporary-set Asian American YA novelsShe is one of a handful of American journalists who have been granted a visa to North Korea since the Korean War. She was the first Fulbright Scholar to Korea in creative writing and has received many honors for her work, including an O. Henry honorable mention, the Best Book Award from the Friends of American Writers, and a New York Foundation for the Arts fiction fellowship. Her stories and essays have been published in The AtlanticThe New York TimesSlateSalonGuernicaThe Paris ReviewThe Nation, and The Guardian, among others. Marie is a founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at Columbia. She lives in New York City with her family. 

Gish Jen is the author of two story collections (Thank You, Mr Nixon was released by Knopf in February), five novels, and two works of nonfiction. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Fulbright Foundation, as well as the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction and the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her stories have been chosen for The Best American Short Stories five times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr., Lectures in American Studies at Harvard University. She and her husband split their time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Vermont.