Free Food for Millionaires

Free Food for Millionaires

by Min Jin Lee


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In this One Book, One New York 2019 nominee from the author of National Book Award Finalist Pachinko, the Korean-American daughter of first-generation immigrants strives to join Manhattan's inner circle.

Meet Casey Han: a strong-willed, Queens-bred daughter of Korean immigrants immersed in a glamorous Manhattan lifestyle she can't afford. Casey is eager to make it on her own, away from the judgements of her parents' tight-knit community, but she soon finds that her Princeton economics degree isn't enough to rid her of ever-growing credit card debt and a toxic boyfriend. When a chance encounter with an old friend lands her a new opportunity, she's determined to carve a space for herself in a glittering world of privilege, power, and wealth-but at what cost?

Set in a city where millionaires scramble for the free lunches the poor are too proud to accept, this sharp-eyed epic of love, greed, and ambition is a compelling portrait of intergenerational strife, immigrant struggle, and social and economic mobility. Addictively readable, Min Jin Lee's bestselling debut Free Food for Millionaires exposes the intricate layers of a community clinging to its old ways in a city packed with haves and have-nots.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446699853
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/09/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation (2018) and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2018-2019). Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and one of the New York Times' "Ten Best Books of 2017." A New York Times bestseller, Pachinko was also one of the "Ten Best Books" of the year for BBC and the New York Public Library, and a "best international fiction" pick for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In total, it was on over seventy-five best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN, and it was a selection for Now Read This, the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and the New York Times. Pachinko will be translated into twenty-seven languages. Lee's debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was one of the best books of the year for the Times of London, NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today, and it was a national bestseller. Her writings have appeared in the New Yorker, NPR's Selected Shorts, One Story, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, the Times of London, and the Wall Street Journal. Lee served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea. In 2018, she was named as one of Adweek's Creative 100 for being one of the "ten writers and editors who are changing the national conversation," and one of the Guardian's Frederick Douglass 200. She received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Monmouth College. She will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College from 2019-2022.

Table of Contents

Book I Works

1 Options 3

2 Credit 18

3 Net 29

4 Deficit 37

5 Bond 51

6 Proxy 61

7 Derivative 71

8 Cost 77

9 Worth 85

10 Offering 95

11 Covenant 104

12 Loss 110

13 Recognition 120

14 Hold 129

15 Default 138

Book II Plans

1 Compass 157

2 Binoculars 172

3 Luggage 188

4 Holding Pattern 196

5 View 210

6 Language 227

7 Journey 242

8 Gate 252

9 Customs 261

10 Wonders 277

11 Souvenirs 288

12 Insurance 303

13 Passport 317

14 Hospitality 334

Book III Grace

1 Object 347

2 Steam 361

3 Design 376

4 Price 394

5 Block 405

6 Model 417

7 Scissors 437

8 Return 447

9 Seam 463

10 Adjustment 480

11 Baste 495

12 Lining 508

13 Gift 520

14 Crown 531

15 Sketch 544

Customer Reviews

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Free Food for Millionaires 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down, and with bated breath I turned the pages for the upcoming drama....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though this book was written with an Asian American experience in mind, and has done an excellent job of doing so, Free Food for Millionaires is a book about New York and about those why are trying to make in the city. The quintessential New Yorker if there every was one. The book makes honest observations about Asian Americans without sounding preachy or groveling for sympathy. This is not a 'Please try to understand us' type of book. This is an honest and entertaining book that just tell it like it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though the book was over 500 pages and it took me about 2 weeks to read it, I didn't want it to end. Lee is a very talented writer. I am not a Korean American or young, but I do live in Manhattan and I enjoyed all facets of this story. In fact, I've recommended it to my daughter!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great exposure of culture of korean girls growing up in the states
raq929 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely not the kind of book I usually enjoy, but I have to admit that I liked it a lot. One of Lee's stated goals is to portray Asian American characters in a realistic way, and I think she does just that. The characters are flawed, conflicted, and undeniably human, in a way that will appeal to all different kinds of readers. She explores the struggle of Asian Americans in their relationships with family, friends, boyfriends and husbands, and how their cultural and immigrant identity factors into their lives and decisions. A portrayal of Asian Americans as human beings instead of stereotypical characters was long overdue, and this book was extremely well written and well worth reading.
cmeatto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Smart and tall young Korean woman, a Princeton grad, takes on food stamps and Wall Street. Someone in the New York Times called it "accomplished." Not really. Its various subplots would have better been served as short stories. Korean culture did not, in my opinion, shine through.
bearette24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. It felt like a Victorian novel - long (in a good way), densely populated, with wide scope and strong character development. Almost all of the characters felt real to me; they were rich with contradiction and displayed nuanced emotions. I found Min Jin Lee's exploration of class issues among poor Korean immigrants, Wall Street bankers, and Ivy League graduates (with several of the characters belonging to all three groups) fascinating.
lindawwilson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Couldn't put it down and pretty much read it straight through. However, I did not really like any of the characters. It is unusual for me to like a book and not like any of the characters. Nevertheless, this book is worth reading. Gives some insight into the new generation of ivy league graduates that are out there now.
ddirmeyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Min Jin Lee immediately pulls the reader into her novel about Korean Americans in New York City in the 1990s. Casey is caught between her parents and their lower socioeconomic standing and the Princeton and Wall Street worlds she finds herself in as a young adult. Casey is quite a flawed protagonist - never realizing her potential or her place in life.I usually love a novel where the characters are flawed and find them much more believable. I never enjoy a book where everyone has a happy ending. However, Lee created a novel where most of the characters just didn't seem to engage me. I found it hard to truly care about them. Add to that the fact that the main character of Casey seems to constantly throw her life away without any character development or growth. When I finished the novel, I realized the last few chapters had veered off from where I felt the novel was heading and our ending was not in the least bit satisfying.I can see how this novel would be a good book club choice in that the characters have so many flaws it would lend itself to lively discussion. But as a novel, I felt it was less than ideal.
verka6811 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
GREAT book - cannot say enough good things about. I think anyone who experienced graduating from college, and struggling to figure out what to do with themselves can relate to this one. Great writing and a definite page turned. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book!
Hermione2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First novel, entertaining but a bit too erotic. Characters are developed but not realistic nor sympathetic
goldiebear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My goodness, this book took me over a month to read! It was too long in my opinion. There could have been a lot cut out and the book would have been just as good. Don't get me wrong, it obviously kept me intereseted for 552 pages. I enjoyed the changing view points. The Korean immigrant (or immigrant expriences in general) are always interesting to me. All of the characters had clever, interesting storylines. The ending left some to be desired though. I thought more loose ends could have be tied up.
stonelaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This 500+ page book is all about relationships, love and finding your true path in life. It is at times enthralling and at other time repetitive and oh-so-long. Casey Han, a talented Princeton graduate who¿s already been accepted to Harvard Law, postpones grad school and spends the rest of the book dating various people, upsetting and alienating her conservative, traditional parents, and taking the long path to finding her true role in life ¿ designing and making hats, something any reader could have predicted in the first few chapters. At first the constant changing to the internal thoughts of each character and the details about even peripheral characters is a bit confusing, but Lee finally settles on the core group as they stumble their way toward true meaning and happiness in life. If this book were 200 pages shorter I could actually recommend it to patrons.
lieslmayerson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I was impressed with some of the prose and found parts entertaining, the top-level story is one that has been done one too many times. The Asian family aspect added some depth, but not enough for what it aspires to be. I do not regret having read it, but I would not reread it and would not recommend it.
LyzzyBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Acquired via BookCrossing 29 Aug 2009 - at the Rugby meetupI thought this was an NSS gift and was a bit worried about what I'd thought of it - if I'd realised I'd just grabbed it at a meetup I might not have persisted with it.I think this was trying to be a Bonfire Of The Vanities for Korean-Americans. Set in New York, we meet Casey, arguing with her Dad, not at all traditional, obsessed with hats and trying for a career in Wall Street. Her parents, sister, friends, lovers and colleagues at the financial institution and a department store form the rest of the characters. Unfortunately, although there was some interest, I wasn't really engaged with any of the characters, and there seemed to be a rather cold authorial voice, and an awful lot of "telling" rather than "showing". To be honest, I don't think I'd have completed this long book if it hadn't been the only one I had with me on a trip over New Year's Eve - by the time we came back I was over half way through and it seemed a waste not to persist with it!
dudara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This debut novel from Min Jin Lee tackles the Korean immigrant experience. Our protagonist is Casey Han, a Princeton graduate who has acheived academically, has moved outside her family's social circle and yet cannot seem to break into the established society that she thinks she craves. On the other hand, we meet her immigrant parents, who have worked hard all their lives in a dry-cleaning shop. Although we realise throughout the book that they are not poor, neither are they wealthy and they cling to their Korean background and ways. The portrait of Casey's mother througout the book is especially charming. Casey struggles through her life, breaking with her father's controlling ways but remains unable to find stability in her life. The whole story appears to be a tale of non-committal on Casey's part. At the start she finds it within herself to break up with her lover, as she cannot picture them together forever. However, throughout most of the novel, we cannot find the same determination within her. She is prepared to work two jobs to earn a wage, earning enough to keep ticking over, yet she never takes a step towards more.Towards the end of the story, Casey makes a big decision. Having worked hard to secure an internship and gain an offer of employment, she decides to turn it down. She is on the cusp of a breakthrough and this where the author rus out of steam. As a result, this intriguing and captivating tale runs out of steam and becomes a large volume with no real ending.Casey's friends and family follow their own lives in this book, with their stories running in parallel to Casey's. The trials and tribulations of love, marriage and affairs are explored with beautiful nuances and add an incredible tone to this book.Despite enjoying this book immeasurably, and racing through the pages, I was ultimately left discontent at the end. Questions about the immigrant experience and the quest to find one's own path in life are raised and treated in this novel, but there's nothing quite like a good ending.
jiles2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book disappointing, but not in the writing. More I was disappointed in the characters. Perhaps that's a sign of quality writing - that I could be disappointed in a fictional person. However, it left me not feeling like I had insight - rather that I had witnessed a trainwreck of a young woman who will never actually be able to right her own ship.
amystromboli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My copy was a prepublished copy so I think it was more than likely a tighter read after it was fully released. I enjoyed the story as it was real & interesting. A Korean Princeton graduate deals with life after college. Materialism, doubt, insecurity, trust, growth, & strength are prevelant themes.
galacticfuzz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Free Food for Millionaires is a pleasure to read. Min Jin Lee is a gifted storyteller. The words flow beautifully, and they contain a solid plot and many insights into American culture along the way. Her vision of post-ivy life is insightful and resonated with my own experience. Her challenge to what it means to be successful is also timely. I recommend it to anyone who is worried about chasing the "American Dream."
sgk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Great insights into Korean American culture, as well as how difficult it is to live a happy life in NYC without any money. Lee is a wonderful storyteller, honest and believable.
sussabmax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It touched on a lot of themes that I find interesting, including immigrants, class, money, and finding out what you really want out of life. Also, whether the fact that you are good at something means you should do it, and how independent do you need to be from others to maintain your sense of self. I would definitely recommend this book.
Juliann Cerrito More than 1 year ago
Often times we question culture; we are a melting pot. Why? Why?Why? Chinese restaurant staff have their children in the kitchen with them. Hispanic culture values food and family above all else. This book answers many questions about the Korean culture. We meet Casey Han, Korean daughter of immigrants in the dry cleaning business. We follow her from post graduation days of Princeton to her early 30s. With the seasons and years that pass, we begin to understand the culture. The allegiance to parents, the hiding of white boyfriends, the importance of certain recipes and above all, the educational demands and expectations. It was a vivid page turner and a complete delight. Some sadness, yes, definitely. I now have clarity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend it.