Over at The Millions, author Marie Myung-Ok Lee writes about her relationship with her name – as a writer, a daughter of Korean immigrants, and as a Korean-American. She examines how her name has evolved over the years and how deeply names and identity are intertwined.
Here’s a sample:
Not unlike George Herbert Walker Bush, my full legal name, as it reads on my birth certificate, has four pieces, not the usual three.
Marie Myung-Ok Grace Lee.
People assume Myung-Ok is my middle name. But it’s just my name, one that was benched, like a junior varsity player, for my entire childhood, and then revived–but not for the reasons one might think–when I needed an “author name” for my novel.
Perhaps the author name is also a brilliant tool that should be used as such. Friends and family call me Marie, and Koreans revert to Myung-Ok—but no one uses both. Marie Myung-Ok Lee then becomes the embodiment of my writing, a protective shell that diverts the attention from that overly open, curious part of me that I need to be able to write in the first place.