Born in Tokyo, Minae Mizumura moved with her family to Long Island, New York when she was twelve. She later went on to study French Literature at Yale College and after finishing her M.Phil. program, Mizumura returned to Japan to devote herself to writing fiction.
Mizumura's first novel, Zoku Light and Darkness, Continued (Meian, Chikuma Shobo, 1990) completed the unfinished classic Light and Darkness (Meian, 1917), by Natsume Soseki (1865-1917), perhaps the greatest modern Japanese novelist. Written in Soseki's now-archaic and idiosyncratic style, the novel won the Minister of Education Award for New Artists, 1991.
Mizumura's second novel, A Personal Novel (Shishosetsu from left to right, Shinchosha, 1995), is an autobiographical work that portrays the author's life as an expatriate's daughter who comes of age in the U.S. while obsessed with reading Japanese literature. The novel was horizontally printed in Japanese/English bilingual text, a first for Japanese literature.
Her third and most recent novel, A Real Novel (2002) is a retelling of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights in postwar Japan, featuring a half-Chinese, half-Japanese Heathcliff. It received the Yomiuri Literature Award, 2003, a major literary award whose past winners include novelists Kenzaburo Oe, Kobo Abe, and Yukio Mishima.
Mizumura's novels won her a wide readership, while at the same time receiving critical acclaim. In non-fiction, Mizumura has co-authored a book about reading literature called Letters with Bookmarks Attached, a compilation of epistolary essays she and another novelist, Tsuji Kunio, serialized in the newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.
Mizumura has taught modern Japanese literature at Princeton, the University of Michigan, and Stanford, and was a resident novelist in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.