Lisa See Biography
Lisa See was born in Paris in 1955 but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her
time in Chinatown. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year
Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family, was a national bestseller and a New
York Times Notable Book of 1995. The book traces the journey of Lisa's
great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the
100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles's Chinatown and the patriarch of a
It was while collecting the details of her family history for On Gold
Mountain that she developed the idea for her first novel, Flower Net,
which was published in 1997. Paramount Pictures bought the films right to this
riveting story of a murder investigation in today's China, and foreign rights
were sold to fourteen countries. Flower Net was a national bestseller, a
New York Times Notable Book of 1997, on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List
for 1997, and was rated the top thriller of the year by Amazon.com. Flower
Net was also nominated for an Edgar award for best first novel.
In The Interior (published in 2000), Liu Hulan and David Stark,
characters first introduced in Flower Net, ferret out a killer (or
killers) responsible for a series of murders in China and in the United States,
as well as unravel a multi-million dollar international financial scheme with
links to the Chinese countryside. At its heart, The Interior is a story
about the sometimes blind love between a mother and daughter, the clash of
global financial empires, and how the past can sometimes come back to haunt us.
Dragon Bones (Random House, 2003), the third in the Liu Hulan and David
Stark series, is set against the building of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangzi
River. The novel combines ancient myth and contemporary fears of religious
fanaticism and terrorism to tell a story of love, betrayal, history, ecology,
and gory murders. Author Ha Jin has said of the book: "Mixing history, myths,
and current events, Dragon Bones is an extraordinarily rich novel. It
reveals the emotional and economical entanglement of China with the West, and
tells a story of violence, lust, greed, fear and desperation. The novel is not
only a page turner but is also timely."
In addition to writing books, Ms. See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast
Correspondent for thirteen years. As a freelance journalist, her articles have
appeared in Vogue, Self, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times
Magazine, The Washington Post Book World, and TV Guide.
She wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain,
which premiered in June 2000 at the Japan American Theatre followed by the
Irvine Barclay Theatre. She also served as guest curator for an exhibit on the
Chinese American experience for the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, which then
traveled to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2001. Ms. See
then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum,
an interactive space for children and their families that focuses on Lisa's
bi-racial, bi-cultural family as seen through the eyes of her father as a
seven-year-old boy living in 1930's Los Angeles.
She designed a walking tour of Los Angeles Chinatown and wrote the
companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA's
new Chinatown metro station. She also curated the inaugural exhibition
a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong for the grand opening of the Chinese
American Museum in Los Angeles in the winter of 2003. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a novel about "nu shu,"
the secret writing developed and used by women in a small county in China for
over a thousand years, was published in 2005, and Peony in Love in 2006.
Ms. See serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner on the El Pueblo de Los
Angeles Monument Authority. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the
Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was also the recipient of the
Chinese American Museum's History Makers Award in Fall 2003.
Ms. See lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.
- On Gold Mountain: The 100 Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995)
- 365 Days in China (2007)
The Red Princess Mysteries
- The Flower Net (1997)
- The Interior (1999)
- Dragon Bones (2003)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005)
Peony in Love (2007)
Shanghai Girls (2009)
This biography was last updated on 06/05/2009.
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