Katherine Min died in hospice on Sunday, March 17, 2019 — the day after her 60th birthday — in Asheville, NC.
Katherine was born in Champaign, IL to Kongki and Yungwha Min and grew up with her brother Kollin in upstate New York. Katherine knew from a young age that she wanted to be a fiction writer. She began by telling colorful lies on the playground in elementary school and writing an illustrated picaresque novel at age twelve. After majoring in English at Amherst College and marrying her classmate Roy Andrews, she attended Columbia Journalism School and worked as a journalist in Boston and Seoul, Korea. She never stopped writing fiction, even as she moved to New Hampshire, worked at the alumni magazine and as an adjunct professor at Plymouth State University, and raised two kids, Kayla and Clay Min Andrews. She began publishing in literary journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, The Threepenny Review, and many others. She received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1992, a Pushcart Prize for her story “Courting a Monk” in 1998, and a New Hampshire State Council for the Arts Fellowship in 1998 and 2004. In 1999, her short story “The Brick” was read on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts program.
Katherine’s novel Secondhand World was published by Knopf in 2006. (It was translated and published in Italian in 2011). Secondhand World was one of two finalists for the PEN/Bingham Prize, given to “exceptionally talented fiction writers” whose debut novels or short story collections “represent distinguished literary achievement and suggest great promise.” Katherine got a lot of writing done during artist residencies at Yaddo, Hambidge, the Millay Colony, Ledig House, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Jentel, Ucross, and especially the MacDowell Colony. She received a North Carolina State Arts Council Fellowship in 2009 and won the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award in 2012. She was working on her second novel, The Fetishist, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Surprising everyone including herself, Katherine’s diagnosis caused her to lose interest in writing fiction and instead to begin writing personal essays exploring her experiences with cancer and dying. In 2017, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University presented a special evening of classical music to accompany a live reading by Katherine. The concert included an original composition commissioned especially for the occasion; entitled Falling Still, it was inspired by her essay “On Being Humpty Dumpty”. Selected essays have been published in The Rumpus, Hyphen, and Arkansas International, and all are available at katherinekmin.com.
Katherine taught literature and creative writing at the University of North Carolina, Asheville from 2007 to 2018, and at the Queens University of Charlotte low-residency MFA program and the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Teaching was very meaningful to her; she missed it when she had to stop working. Her adult children Kayla and Clay were able to spend the last several months of her life with her and Greg in Asheville. She is survived by her partner Greg Hershey, two children, her parents, brother, sister-in-law, two nephews, and her dog Ninja.