Lee, Min Jin 1968–

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Lee, Min Jin 1968–


Born 1968, in Seoul, Korea; immigrated to the United States, 1976; married; children: Sam. Education: Yale University, graduated 1993; studied law at Georgetown University.


Home—New York, NY.


Writer. Practiced law in New York, NY.


NYFA fellowship; Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction; James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction; Missouri Review, Peden Prize, for best story, and Narrative Prize, for new and emerging writer.


Free Food for Millionaires (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including To Be Real, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995, and Breeder, Seal Press (Emeryville, CA), 2001.


Min Jin Lee is a Korea-born writer who was educated at Yale and Georgetown and practiced law in New York before becoming a fulltime writer. As a child, she immigrated with her family to the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York, which is also the setting of her debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires. Casey Han, recently graduated from Princeton University, and her sister, Tina, a M.I.T. student, are at the home of their parents, Joseph and Leah, who work in a dry cleaning store and who have dedicated their lives to providing the best they could for their daughters. Tina is the more compliant sister, but when the rebellious Casey informs her father that she is not going to attend Columbia Law School, where she has been accepted, but has chosen to instead "find herself," the enraged Joseph tells her to leave their home, and Casey is on her own.

Although she attended an Ivy League school, Casey is uncomfortable in the world of her classmates. She wants success and love and to fit in but does not want to sacrifice as her parents have. Her mentor, Sabine, was born in her mother's village, is married to a wealthy American and is part of the fashion world. Casey wants to create hats but takes a job working at a bank to support herself until she decides which path she will follow. She also immerses herself in the writings of British authors who include the Bronte sisters, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot, and in which she sees a similarity to the Korean fairy tales told to her by her mother.

New York Times Book Review contributor Liesl Schillinger praised Lee's treatment of both generations—Casey's and that of her parents. USA Today reviewer Carol Memmott wrote: "As much as this is an immigrant story, it's also an American story full of class struggle, rugged individualism, social status and above all, the money haves and have-nots. Most of all it's an epic meditation on love, both familial and romantic."



Chicago Sun Times, August 26, 2007, Jae-Ha Kim, review of Free Food for Millionaires.

Library Journal, March 15, 2007, Beth E. Andersen, review of Free Food for Millionaires, p. 61.

New York Times Book Review, July 1, 2007, Liesl Schillinger, review of Free Food for Millionaires, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, January 22, 2007, Judith Rosen, profile of author, p. 64; January 22, 2007, review of Free Food for Millionaires, p. 155.

USA Today, May 24, 2007, Carol Memmott, review of Free Food for Millionaires, p. 6.


Asian American Writers Workshop,http://aaww.org/ (September 27, 2007), Ginny Too, "Interview: Min Jin Lee."

BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (September 27, 2007), Rheta Van Winkle, review of Free Food for Millionaires.

BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 27, 2007), Kristy Kiernan, review of Free Food for Millionaires.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 27, 2007), Shannon Luders-Manuel, review of Free Food for Millionaires.

Min Jin Lee Home Page,http://minjinlee.com (September 27, 2007).

Min Jin Lee MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/ (September 27, 2007).

Mostly Fiction Book Reviews,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (June 22, 2007), Poornima Apte, review of Free Food for Millionaires.

Newsweek Online,http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ (July 13, 2007), Charlene Dy, "Forget the Comparisons. She's Unique: After Years of Labor, Min Jin Lee Is an Overnight Sensation."

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