Free Food for Millionaires Author:Min Jin Lee "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 a... more »nd 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 fiancÚ, and then her Korean boyfriend, all culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots.
FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining identity within changing communities. This is a remarkably assured debut from a writer to watch.« less
What a great book! I couldn't put it down, and I look forward to this author's next book (this was her first). The protagonist, Casey, is the daughter of Korean immigrants, and after graduation from Princeton she finds her self without a clear plan for her future. She leaves home due to conflicts with her father, and struggles throughout the book with family issues, money, career, love, and friends. The book offers a good view of the Korean American community, as well. I just lent it to a friend, but will post it if I get it back.
I started this book and was really enjoying it, but mid-way through it I started to get really bored. The story just seemed to muddle along and it appeared that there was going to be no climax to the story. Consequently I got tired of it and skimmed and didn't really finish the last third of the book. I do like the authors style of writing, I just think the book is just a little longer than is necessary.
This book was so interesting I ended up reading it twice. The female protagonist has a much different mindset then any your typical and delving into her character alone is worth reading the book for. Another thing that makes this book stand out is that the viewpoint of all the character's in the book are all almost equally expressed and with such deftness. While, of course, this has been done before I have rarely seen anyone so adept at dong so and exploring so many sides of a thing. You get that a lot of this is personal to the author which makes it even more remarkable.
I'm surprised by the negative reviews here, but of course everyone has different tastes in books, so I'll have to chalk it up to different strokes for different folks. As a second generation Asian American woman, I could instantly relate to the heroine in this story. The only other book that captured the second generation immigrant experience as well is Jhumpa Lahiri's book, "The Namesake." You're forever caught between the expectations of your hard-working immigrant parents who emigrated to America (or some other Western country) for a better life, and the cultural norms of the non-Asian culture you're brought up in. You're not firmly rooted in the Old Country or the new domicile. That feeling of wanting to belong and not belonging is captured so well by Min Jin Lee in this book.
The heroine is well-educated, funny, quirky and complicated. She's a modern woman with an active sexual life and past, but she's also the good Asian daughter who does very well in her university studies at an Ivy League university. She's a much smarter version of Becky Bloomwood in the Shopaholic series. This book is not chick lit, but the two characters both share a penchant for spending money on things they can't afford.
There's a cast of characters who range from other second generation Korean Americans to a Puerto Rican doorman. The one character whose backstory I really wanted to know wasn't given a first person voice. We only see her from the point of view of the heroine. I would wanted to know how the multi-millionaire, Sabine, got to where she did starting from nothing and only speaking in broken English. There are so many layers to this book that it's something you can read multiple times without getting bored. The plotting could be better and the I didn't like the ending. It was much too ambiguous, which I guess was the point, but I needed more finality. What happens to Ted? What about Unu? Does Casey ever work full-time for Sabine? I docked a point for the ending, but I consider this book one of my favorites
Great book about the struggle second generation/1.5 generation Korean Americans go through dealing with the traditional Korean culture their immigrant parents want and expect of them while at the same time dealing with American cultural norms as well. Loved the book!