Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning first-time novelist MIN JIN LEE as she reads from Free Food for Millionaires.
"Competence can be a curse." So begins Min Jin Lee's debut 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 in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold onto their culture and identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into the upper echelon of rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey's trust-fund friends see only opportunity and choices while 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, scarred father, her friend Ella who's always been the good Korean girl, Ella's ambitious Korean husband and his Caucasian mistress, Casey's white fiancé, and then her Korean boyfriend, all culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots.
"I read a terrific debut novel this week. It’s always heartening to find a good new writer, but what’s especially delightful about Min Jin Lee and her new novel, called Free Food for Millionaires, is that she’s taken up the expansive form of the nineteenth century novel and its concerns about money, marriage, and duty, to create a kind of Korean-American riff on all those sagas, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, where the principled heroine sometimes behaves like a downright fool.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR FRESH AIR (ablachly)