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Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
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Free Food for Millionaires (2007)

by Min Jin Lee

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Quite good. Very interesting look into the culture and ethos of Korean immigrants. Perhaps other ethnic' second generation sons and daughters will find elements to relate to. Bit of a soap opera pace with all the characters' romances and emotional upheavals. ( )
  amaraki | Aug 8, 2018 |
Having just finished Pachinko, I was looking forward to reading another book by Min Jin Lee. Free Food for Millionaires is not nearly as good as Pachinko but I still enjoyed it. The book tells the story of young adult Korean Americans living in New York and how their world is shaped by tradition, family expectations, class, race and education. Casey Han is a recent Princeton grad and the eldest daughter of Leah and Joseph Han, Korean immigrants who run a dry cleaners in Queens. Smart and capable, Casey is not interested in the fast track, high achieving world that her parents and their friends expect their children to pursue. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Jun 3, 2018 |
I read this book after reading Pachinko by the same author. That book was more compelling and rich in the story. There were lots of similarities in the characters and their behaviors in the two books. Despite so much despair and hardships with failed relationships etc. I enjoyed the book overall, I was caught up in wondering what would happen next...some of the twists were a bit unrealistic, her very puritanic mom miscarrying the baby of the younger choir director?? My biggest disappointment was the ending. It left me flat...The main character was such a contrast within herself it would have been great to have her come to some clarity. ( )
  5041 | Mar 21, 2018 |
What a waste of time! I've had this book for at least of couple of years after buying it as a bargain book. I finally got around to it, thinking that it was time for a big grand epic for the weekend. This was one of those highly touted books, although I don't recall the hype when it was released.
 
Casey is a young woman who graduated from Princeton with no direction. She hasn't landed a prestigious job, she isn't getting married, she's living with her parents. The daughter of immigrants and she is starting to feel the pressure, particularly from her father. The book opens with an argument between Casey and her father, which ends in blows. Casey leaves in a huff, hoping to find solace with her boyfriend Jay. Who is having sex with two women when Casey flees to his place.
 
I'll admit, I was really turned off by the start of the book. It felt like a big info drop with setting up Casey's background and family history. Then it started becoming eye-rolling and soap opera-ish with her disagreement with her parents, finding out her boyfriend (or not) was cheating on her, and with Casey pretty much having nowhere to go.
 
Since I wasn't all that familiar with this book I didn't know it was supposedly trying to adapt the Victorian novel into a modern setting. Goodness, is that what the author was trying to do? The text is nearly unreadable, with far too much detail, no character development, soapy dramatics, etc. I don't really keep to any particular rule, but after 100 pages or so I realized there really wasn't much of a plot. I asked myself why I was reading this and decided to skim.
 
The book really doesn't get much better as it goes along. There's a sexual assault towards the end of the book, just as a warning.
 
I really wanted to like the book and see past the unlikable protagonist. But the author just made it too hard for me. Reading this book in 2016 made me think Casey is *exactly* what people can't stand (and stereotype) in the current millennial generation with apparently no ambition, seemingly rather disengaged with the world, and remains unsympathetic.
 
Skip it. I want to support diversity in publishing and thought this would be an interesting POV to read, but this is a terrible book. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Simply a good read ( )
  Violette62 | Jun 8, 2017 |
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Epigraph
Our crowns have been bought and paid for-all we have to do is wear them.

-James Baldwin
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For Umma, Apha, Myung, and Sang.
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Competence can be a curse.
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Book description
"Competence can be a curse."

So begins Min Jin Lee's epic novel about class, society, and identity. Casey Han's four years at Princeton have given her many things-"a refined diction, an enviable golf handicap, a popular white boyfriend, an agnostic's closeted passion for reading the Bible, and a magna cum laude degree in economics, but no job and a number of bad habits.

Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working at a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and identity. Their daughter, on the other hand,m has entered into the upper echelon of rarefied American society via scholarships. But after graduation, while Casey's trust-fund friends see only opportunity and choices, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As Casey navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives of those around her-her sheltered mother and scarred father, her friend Ella's ambitious Korean husband and his Causcasian mistress, Casey's white fiance, and then her Korean boyfriend-culminate in a portrait of NYC and its worlds of haves and have nots.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446581089, Hardcover)

Free Food for Millionaires, the debut novel from Min Jin Lee, takes on daunting themes of love, money, race, and belief systems in this mostly satisfying tale. Casey Han is a Princeton grad, class of '93, and it is her conflicts, relationships, and temperament that inform the novel. She is the child of immigrant Korean parents who work in the same laundry in Queens where they have always worked and are trying hard to hang on to their culture. Casey has catapulted out of that life on scholarships but now that college is over, she hasn't the same opportunities as her white friends, even though she has acquired all of their expensive habits.

The concept of free food for millionaires is the perfect irony that describes much of what Casey faces. Walter, one of her bosses, says, when a huge buffet lunch is delivered to the floor: "It's free food for millionaires... In the International Equities Department--that is, Asia, Europe, and Japan Sales--the group you're interviewing for--whichever desk that sells a deal buys lunch for everyone in the department."

Casey is ambivalent about everything--her love life, work, friendships, her family, dating a Korean man--but she seems to believe that money would sort everything out and smooth any rough spots. She works part-time for a fashion maven who would like to "adopt" her by paying for business school, but Casey can't quite accept all that she offers. She pulls back from help, digs herself deeper in debt, works like a slave during an internship and then, when she is offered the job, finally begins to realize what she might really want--and it isn't only money.

There are several loose ends left dangling, some bad behavior toward others on Casey's part and an unlikely and too coincidental passing acquaintance with an old bookseller whose wife was crazy about hats, as is Casey. When he dies, he leaves all her hats to Casey--which just might just be the start of something. The author runs out of steam after 512 pages and ends the book without really finishing it, but it is a thoughtful treatment of many of the questions Lee raises, and an emninently worthwhile debut. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:18 -0400)

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"Goodbye, Columbus meets the novels of Amy Tan in this American story of class, society and identity that marks the debut of a new voice in fiction"--Provided by the publisher.

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