The Olasky Interview preview: Min Jin Lee


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of this week’s edition of The Olasky Interview podcast.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky talks with author Min Jin Lee. Her book Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction as well as a New York Times bestseller. The conversation is before a student audience in 2018.

OLASKY: So, health problems, financial problems, you write a first novel and it’s turned down. You write a second novel and you decide it’s no good. You only have two hours of energy a day and you’re devoting that to Sam rather than to your writing. Are you starting to say at this point, well, “why me, Lord?”

MIN: I think that I’m the kind of gal who says “why me?” Lord, all the time and “why now?” or “why not now?”

OLASKY: So let’s say you are Jacob wrestling with God and you wrestle a lot and then what happens?

MIN: I lose every time. I mean, that’s the problem because if you believe it’s God, capital “G,” it’s not an equal relationship. Most people think God is really angry. I think of God as being very humored by us and tolerates us, kind of like the way we look at puppies trying to move furniture. 

That’s kind of the way I think God looks at us. It’s like, “Isn’t that cute? That puppy cannot move that sofa, and the puppy is really mad at the sofa. Isn’t that adorable?” I feel like that’s who God is to me a bit.

OLASKY: We had a three year old who was trying out his strength and carried a bucket of paint essentially all the way across the room, on carpet, leaving a trail behind, but it was very impressive that he did that, and so this is how God looks at us. “Oh, this is cute.” It’s a cute pet trick in some ways.

MIN: And also with the paint it’s ruining everything.

OLASKY: But you still believe?

MIN: Oh, yeah. I made a decision. It’s kind of like, for me, this is it. I’m in it.

OLASKY: You don’t say “I quit” basically because God doesn’t quit on us.

MIN: I am convinced. I feel very convinced, for me, that this is what I believe.

OLASKY: And you’re ready Hosea now. God tells Hosea, “Marry the prostitute.”

MIN: I always thought, wow. What an interesting thing. What an interesting idea and it’s troubling. It’s very, very troubling. So I like that book. It’s a weird book. It’s very, very short. You can read it in like 30 minutes.

OLASKY: So God composes very interesting stories.

MIN: I mean, I always think about God being a writer because the Word is so important, and whenever I’m in this whole publishing word, I think, well, God is a writer and He’s a publisher and He kind of gets it. He’s an editor and all those things. I wonder what God thinks about my little troubles. I hope that He can give me a break.

OLASKY: Yeah.


(Photo/Frank McGrath, The Irish Independent/Eyevine/Redux)

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WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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