Author Marie Myung-Ok Lee on her new novel 'The Evening Hero'

A side by side with a book cover
Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a Korean-American with Minnesota roots. Her new novel, “The Evening Hero,” follows an obstetrician who is faced with big decisions when the northern Minnesota hospital where he works is forced to close.
Adrianne Mathiowetz and courtesy of Simon & Schuster

It took years for Marie Myung-Ok Lee to collect the pieces and do the research necessary to accurately write her new novel, “The Evening Hero.”

It tells the story of a Korean-born obstetrician who is shocked to discover that the northern Minnesota hospital where he’s delivered babies for decades is being closed, with only a week’s notice. It disrupts his previously quiet and dutiful life and forces him to contend with his past, which he would rather keep buried.

As Lee tells MPR News host Kerri Miller on this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas, “The Evening Hero” isn’t biographical, but it does mirror her own story. Lee grew up in Hibbing, watching her anesthetist father be both a community leader and an outsider. Her parents wanted to be distinctly American, but they couldn’t deny their histories and immigration journey.

“The Evening Hero” combines scathing commentary on the state of health care in America with a portrait of a restrained marriage and the trauma of war. Listen to Miller and Lee’s wide-ranging conversation about her new book using the audio player above.


  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a Korean-American author. She teaches writing at Columbia University and is the founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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