Free Food for Millionaires
Min Jin Lee’s short story “Axis of Happiness” won the 2004 Narrative Prize. Her first novel, Free Food for Millionaires, is the story of Casey Han, the daughter of Korean immigrants in New York City who, yes, run a laundry and who scraped to put Casey through Princeton and her younger sister, Tina, through MIT. As the novel opens, Casey is feuding with her rigid father and seeking the refuge of her white college boyfriend’s apartment. The immigrant experience in contemporary American fiction is commonly told as the story of severe if identity-affirming traditions in competition with the openness and opportunity of the New World; as first-generation children grow up and make decisions about partners, jobs, and even what language to speak, they are perennially choosing between the respectable, closed-minded old and the louche new.