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Free Food for Millionaires: A Novel | [Min Jin Lee]

Free Food for Millionaires: A Novel

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." After graduation, she discovers the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she attempts to navigate Manhattan, we explore her life and New York City's milieu of haves and have-nots.
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Publisher's Summary

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working for a dry cleaner while desperately trying to hold on to their culture and identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey discovers the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she attempts to navigate Manhattan, we explore her life and New York City's milieu of haves and have-nots.

Free Food for Millionaires offers up a fresh assessment of the complex layers we inhabit, both in society and within ourselves. In this remarkably assured debut, inspired by 19th-century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines the difficulty of maintaining one's identity within changing communities.

©2007 Min Jin Lee; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Noteworthy....Wide-ranging, sympathetic, and well worth reading." (Publishers Weekly)
"Free Food for Millionaires stakes out new ground for 21st-century American literature, territory both profoundly enlightening and utterly enjoyable." (David Henry Hwang, playwright, M. Butterfly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (142 )
5 star
 (39)
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Overall
3.5 (31 )
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Story
4.0 (30 )
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  •  
    Michael Jablow Hollywood, CA. 07-14-07
    Michael Jablow Hollywood, CA. 07-14-07 Listener Since 2005

    lover of tales

    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    3
    FOLLOWERS
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    Overall
    "free food for thought - beautifully satisfying"

    I have grown a bit wary of novels that describe quirky families and attempt to turn the psycho dramatics of relationships into entertainment . In broad strokes these books sometimes lack a depth missing descriptions of the inner turmoil that underlies behavior. This novel succeeds on every level, FFFM is a revelation. Characters are drawn with a brutally compassionate wisdom and detail that brings them to life. Although, the story revolves around the Korean American , recent Ivy League grad, Casey Han, as she moves from college into the "real" world we become intimately familiar with the network of people that touch her life. Each one of these becomes 3-D and real with unique motives, limitations and hopes. Each personal experience reflected with dignity thus, earning earning my compassion. Ms Lee addresses the larger issues of race, class and the affect they have on our self image and soul to the still larger issues OF LOVE, RELIGION, FAITH, that commonly manifest for most of us human creatures as we go about living our life . Ms Lee has sensitively describes the especially awkward time of moving from college age into the adult world; from "knowing things" we learned into "knowing" from experience.. Lee is an artist of the first magnitude she has the emotional genius to be able to write with a "spiritually evolved" open heart, giving her the ability to use the lightest touch to challenge her readers with the deepest of ideas. WHAT A GIFT!!! I will wait impatiently for her next book. In the interim I will miss the characters of this beautiful book wondering what happens to them next, they feel like friends. This audio book is right at the top---with Bryce Courtney, James Herriot and a few others. Lee can be ranked with the talented Pulitizer winner J. Lahiri (THE NAMeSAKE) in writing insightfully about the American immigrant experience.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 08-04-08
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 08-04-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    305
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    118
    49
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
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    Overall
    "Well worth reading"

    This is the story of a Korean-American young woman who has difficulty finding her way after graduating from Princeton and returning to New York City. Irresponsible and naive in the beginning, Casey overspends on luxuries she cannot afford and makes many poor choices. (I had often wondered what makes some women compulsively shop for unnecessary luxuries they cannot afford. This novel gave me some sympathetic insight.) In the years that follow Casey develops more maturity. We root for her to handle her life better, but she sometimes continues to make some errors in judgment right to the conclusion of this novel. In a sense, this is the novel's greatest fascination, and it is precisely what saves this novel from being banal. As we grow to like her, Casey is a character who is not obviously predictable and still sometimes makes mistakes. And yet, we witness with admiration how she learns to trust her own feelings and to provide solace for others. Not only Casey, but a number of the other female characters are portrayed in believable depth: Casey's mother and sister, her Korean-American friend Ella, and her benefactor Sabine. Most of the male characters (father, boyfriends, husbands, etc.) play supporting roles and are treated rather superficially. With one reservation, I felt the narrator did an excellent job. She evidently does not have the ability even to attempt the accents of the older generation of Korean-Americans, although the narrator did nevertheless give a unique, recognizable voice to each of the characters. Perhaps, a bi-cultural Korean-American would have been an even better choice for narrator. The producer of this audiobook, however, should have corrected the narrator's mispronunciations of a number of words like "Stuyvesant" ( frequently used in place names in New York), "Gauloises" (a very well known brand of French cigarettes), and the adjective "amiable."

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 08-01-08
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 08-01-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    394
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    265
    162
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    46
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    Overall
    "free advice for listeners"

    Usually, after listening to a book for nearly 20 hours, I am sorry to see it end. Most books of this length span years in time or have wonderful character development. This book never seemed to have much of a focus, and by the end I really didn't care one way or the other what happened to the incredibly irresponsible main character. It's not a terrible book, just rambling words after a while.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 08-21-07
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 08-21-07 Member Since 2004

    I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    144
    ratings
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    161
    86
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    13
    6
    Overall
    "excellent"

    excellent story, characters and insight into cultural norms and differences. I'd like to hear this narrated by a Korean-American.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly STAMFORD, CT, USA 07-08-07
    Kimberly STAMFORD, CT, USA 07-08-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    86
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Loved it!"

    This was one of those books that had me walking around the house with my headphones on, ignoring everything, and my husband complaining that it was like living with a teenager.

    Engaging, well-written, well-read.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S new york, NY, United States 04-22-08
    S new york, NY, United States 04-22-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    323
    ratings
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    200
    89
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    92
    0
    Overall
    "eh..."

    While i felt that the author really captured aspects of the korean american experience-particularly with her parents-there were many part of the book that seemed forced and written for shock value, rather than to further the story. I found the readers inability to pronounce the korean words extremely irritating and it seemed that the author was preoccupied with the word "sex". It must have been read at least a hundred times within the span of this one recording. It was kind of hilarious and ridiculous.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosa M. Thomas san francisco 07-14-09
    Rosa M. Thomas san francisco 07-14-09 Member Since 2009

    winner48

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Free Food For Millionaires"

    What a moving story of the complications of finding one's identity. Casey is lost, mostly to herself. She doesn't quite fit in the Korean or the Anglo world. Following her and those she encounters on her journey to making peace with that fact is fascinating.

    I could relate to her struggle and never stopped rooting for her.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Chapel Hill, NC, United States 12-31-12
    Liz Chapel Hill, NC, United States 12-31-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    11
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    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable character study"

    I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this story who come from and live in a world very different from my own. I look forward to more works by this aurthor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte Alexandria, VA, United States 08-27-10
    Charlotte Alexandria, VA, United States 08-27-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    159
    4
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    0
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    Overall
    "Interesting look at the Korean-American experience"

    While this book provided an interesting look at the Korea-American experience, it felt like a series of linked stories rather than a novel. The beginning was the most intriguing - some later chapters were almost unbelievable and it went on too long. Much of the character development seems unmotivated. The narrator made numerous mistakes in pronunciation. Doesn't anyone listen to or edit the resulting audio? It can be really distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Cunningham Florida 01-09-10
    K. Cunningham Florida 01-09-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    320
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Interesting book"

    I found the book engaging and enjoyable. Maybe it isn't life altering literature and the story lines can be a bit predictable at times, but it leaves you with a smile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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