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Free Food for Millionaires Paperback

3.6 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8991684467
  • ISBN-13: 978-8991684461
  • ASIN: B0029LHX2G
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on August 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Free Food for Millionaires is an excellent novel about a young, bright daughter of immigrant parents, Casey, a young woman full of potential, just graduated from Princeton in the mid-1990s. She has everything, or seems to, but can't quite realize the value in what she has. Min Jin Lee does an excellent job of conveying the New York City of the oversmart and overprivileged of that time. The title, "Free Food for Millionaires", is a reference to the free lunch provided periodically at an investment bank during that time. It's a perfect summary of the worlds Casey lives in--the striving world of her parents and the overprivileged one of her Princeton classmates, where peoples needs and wants are seemingly either denied and oversupplied. Happiness is never full--something is always missing. That lack of perfection makes this a strong novel. Lee does some interesting things with her characters--they and their stories take some unexpected turns. The novel ultimately lacks that special something to make it great--nothing compels the reader to keep reading. Casey herself, while her story is intersting, is a bit of a cold fish. The novel is intelligently written but Han jumps from one character's perspective to another, sometimes within the same paragraph, which makes the narrative a bit jumpy at times. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable read, full of flawed and human characters. This one would probably be a perfect book club read--it will give readers much to discuss.
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Format: Hardcover
Min Jin Lee's first novel is a wonder to sink intoæand be warned, once you start, it'll be hard to stop until you're done with this dense, richly told story of interweaving characters trying to find themselves in the supposed melting pot that is New York. Starting with fresh-out-of-college Casey Han, we meet the first of many who are struggling to figure out their place in the world. In Casey's case, this starts with her place in her family, and for talking back to her Korean father, she gets a slap across the face that catapults her out of the warmth of her family and into the world, learning the hard way about love, betrayal, jobs, Wall Street, and fidelity. The slapping scene seems to tilt around the room as Lee shows us each person's wishes as they unfold, making what could seem a horrific act one much more understandable. In Lee's hands, each character, no matter how small, gets to have their say, their slice of life, their point of view explained.

It's to Lee's credit that she, as the storyteller, doesn't judge, but lets the reader draw their own conclusions about the values and choices each character makes. From Casey's traditional parents (even though we find out what lurks beneath their quiet mannerisms) to her gambler boyfriend and horny but likable boss, Lee paints a world where right and wrong blend and blur, stripping down these characters' lives until it's clear just how complex their inner turmoil and joy really are.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Korean American male in my early 30's and also in the Investment Banking industry I picked up this book with much curiosity and anticipation. I have to say at the end of it, my thoughts were mixed. In my life, I've lived in the environment that both the author and the main character have gone through- Korean American church life, demanding academics, traditional parents and the rush to find a reputable profession after college. In my time I've known my share of archetypes in the mold of Casey Han, Ted Kim, Joseph Han, Unu Shim and yes even the ultra innocent, tragically beautiful, but ultimately naiveté and played like a fiddle Ella Shim. These caricatures not only exist in our community, but are also recognizable and realistic.

The first half of the book I thought Lee was building up to something quite interesting, perhaps accomplishing something groundbreaking like Chang Rae Lee did in his book "Native Speaker." However, the second half of the book devolved into something that didn't say anything really and was just fodder for gossip talk. Although, there were plenty of flawed characters in this book, it seems as if the Korean Americans, both men and women, were the most dysfunctional people. The only two Korean Americans that had the best values and most consistent personalities, Ellas's father and Casey's sister, were the most underdeveloped characters. The more drama you had in your life, the more words Ms. Lee devoted to developing your character. Maybe that was Lee's point? To take the standard immigrant literary fare of the hard working and noble immigrant family and turn it on its head and write about immigrants who are just as messed up as everyone else around them. For good measure, make them a little more messed up then their non-Korean peers.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book from my local library based on all the great press it had received. After finishing the book, my reaction is that the praise is only somewhat deserved.

I had been looking forward to reading this book -- not only because of the acclaim, but because the author and her characters come from a background like my own -- high-achieving immigrants who had gone on to successful professional lives in New York.

Yet, just fifty pages in, I wanted to put it down. I had to force myself to read. The dialogue, especially the passages between the protagonist and her sister, and the protagonist and her friends, is so precious it's brutally painful -- a sort of artificial, too-smart-for-it's-own-good witty banter. I found myself grimacing while reading.

But that wasn't the only problem. The author also indulges in these tedious passages of exposition -- indeed, as one critic wrote, too much tell, too little show. The book is 600 pages -- it could surely have been edited down to half.

As a testament to how unnecessary the exposition is though, and as a boon for me as a reader, I was able to skim pretty quickly and get into the plot and characters. I started to enjoy the experience, and read on. To be fair, this may be because the world and the characters in the book are so familiar to me, and because the author weaves a heck of a soap opera of a story -- lots of sex and intrigue.

Following the trend of excess though, the author even takes the soap opera too far, with infidelity not only plaguing the protagonist, but nearly every other character in the book -- not just her immediate friends. If it's not a theme, it's almost a parody.
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