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About the Author

Lisa See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. She is of Chinese decent. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces show more the journey of Lisa's great-grandfather, Fong See. Her first fiction novel, Flower Net (1997) was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 1997. Flower Net was also nominated for an Edgar award for best first novel. In addition to writing books, Ms. See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent for 13 years. Her bestselling novels, all inspired by her Chinese heritage, include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, A Peony in Love, Shanghi Girls, Dreams of Joy and China Dolls. Among her awards and recognitions are the Organization of Chinese Americans Women's 2001 award as National Woman of the Year and the 2003 History Makers Award presented by the Chinese American Museum. See serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Lisa See collaborated with her mother Carolyn See and her mother's companion John Espey to write several novels, published under the pseudonym Monica Highland.

Image credit: Patricia Williams


Works by Lisa See

Associated Works


19th century (101) 2009 (71) arranged marriage (126) Asia (176) audio (102) audiobook (112) book club (190) California (118) China (2,037) Chinese (126) Chinese Americans (191) Chinese culture (113) communism (76) ebook (109) family (199) fiction (2,140) footbinding (345) friendship (372) ghosts (90) historical (269) historical fiction (1,624) history (137) immigrants (104) immigration (127) Kindle (105) Korea (97) lisa see (87) Los Angeles (107) love (79) mothers and daughters (94) mystery (166) novel (182) own (121) read (259) Shanghai (113) sisters (196) to-read (1,928) unread (99) women (411) WWII (201)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Kendall, Lisa See
Other names
Highland, Monica (pseudonym)
Paris, France
Places of residence
Los Angeles, California, USA
Loyola Marymount University
See, Carolyn (mother)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Authority (Los Angeles City Commissioner)
Awards and honors
Organization of Chinese American Women (National Woman of the Year, 2001)
Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award (2003)
Short biography
See www.lisasee.com/Bio.htm
Lisa See is an American writer and novelist. Her books include On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), a detailed account of See's family history, and the novels Flower Net (1997), The Interior (1999), Dragon Bones (2003), Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Peony in Love (2007) and Shanghai Girls (2009), which made it to the 2010 New York Times bestseller list. Both Shanghai Girls and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan received honorable mentions from the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature.

See's novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (2017), is a powerful story about circumstances, culture, and distance among the Akha people of Xishuangbanna, China. It paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond of family.

See's most recent novel, The Island of Sea Women, is a story about female friendship and family secrets on Jeju Island before, during and in the aftermath of the Korean War. It was released on March 5, 2019.

Flower Net, The Interior, and Dragon Bones make up the Red Princess mystery series. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love focus on the lives of Chinese women in the 19th and 17th centuries respectively. Shanghai Girls (2009) chronicles the lives of two sisters who come to Los Angeles in arranged marriages and face, among other things, the pressures put on Chinese-Americans during the anti-Communist mania of the 1950s. See completed a sequel titled Dreams of Joy, released in May 2011. China Dolls (June 2014) deals with Chinese American nightclub performers of the 1930s and 1940s.

Writing under the pen name Monica Highland, See, her mother Carolyn See, and John Espey, published two novels: Lotus Land (1983), 110 Shanghai Road (1986), and Greetings from Southern California (1988), a collection of early 20th Century postcards and commentary on the history they represent. She has a personal essay ("The Funeral Banquet") included in the anthology Half and Half.

See has donated her personal papers (1973–2001) to UCLA. During the 2012 Golden Dragon Chinese New Year Parade in Los Angeles Chinatown, See served as the Grand Marshal.
Disambiguation notice
Lisa See collaborated with her mother Carolyn See and her mother's companion John Espey to write several novels, published under the pseudonym Monica Highland.



On Gold Mountain, Lisa See in World Reading Circle (August 2013)


A fascinating read, set in mid-19th century China. I learned a lot, but felt at times like See struggled to build an actual narrative around the historical and cultural details she wanted to convey.
katiekrug | 442 other reviews | May 31, 2024 |
Chinese-American author Lisa See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles. Her latest novel, The Island of Sea Women, is set on Jeju island, off the coast of South Korea. It tells the story of Young-sook and Mi-ja, two friends who are part of the haenyeo, or diving collective, on Jeju. Jeju is a semi-matriarchal society, focussed on the women who do the physical work of diving and tending the fields while the men raise the children and cook dinner. The haenyeo are a close-knit group of strong women who can free dive up to 30 metres and withstand cold water temperatures for hours. They are trained to watch out for each other, listening for each woman’s distinctive sumbisori, or exhalation breath song, when she breaks the surface.

Young-sook and Mi-ja are best friends from age 7, despite Mi-ja being somewhat an outcast as her father was known to be a Japanese collaborator. The two are inseparable until a violent traumatic event tears them and their families apart.

The story begins in 1938 when the island is under Japanese occupation and many men have been conscripted to fight for the Japanese or work in their factories. Later follows the 4:3 incident or Jeju uprising in 1948 when up to 60,000 people were killed and another 40,000 fled to Japan in harsh reprisals for protesting against the division of Korea and the upcoming election. The election was held by the United Nations after the removal of the Japanese occupiers, but was only to be held on US controlled territory. The US installed a dictator, Rhee Syngman, who was a staunch anti-communist, in South Korea. His regime ruthlessly suppressed opponents who protested, asking for democratic elections, killing thousands on Jeju alone. The US were present, and if not directly responsible, certainly did not intervene to stop the brutality. The details of the uprising were suppressed by the South Korean government until an apology in 2003 for the massacre.

The story shifts between Young-sook and Mi-ja’s life on Jeju in the 1930s to 1950s and Young-sook’s meeting with an American family in 2018 when she is in her 80s. The story begins slowly but becomes more engrossing as it progresses. The events on Jeju are heartbreaking and it is hard not to shed a tear for Young-sook and Mi-ja. A worthwhile story that provides a fascinating insight into Jeju culture and history.
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mimbza | 95 other reviews | May 30, 2024 |
This book started off very slowly for me. I nearly gave up before I was 10% of the way done with the book (I went back to look at reviews from trusted friends to determine whether or not to keep going). Thankfully I made it over the hump and continued, because if I gave up it would have been my loss.

Lisa See once again beautifully describes the life of Li-yan, a young girl who is part of an enthnic minority in China known as the Akha. Li-yan's community makes their livlihood primarily by picking tea leaves, and See gives the reader rich descriptions of the tea industry in China.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy learning about other cultures.

4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Scriber for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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jj24 | 106 other reviews | May 27, 2024 |
It took me a bit to get into this book - but in the end - I am glad that I continued to read it. This is my favourite of the books I've read by Lisa See. I would definitely recommend it.
Bambean | 106 other reviews | May 20, 2024 |


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