It was only after falling in love with the more recent Pachinko that I came across a 10th anniversary edition of Min Jin Lee’s debut novel.
Putting aside my own biases towards the underlying tale of tricky cross-cultural and cross-generational navigation, the basic premise of a fresh graduate so lost and lacking in sense of direction spoke to me on a deeper level than the masses of relatable ‘uni memes’ that flood my Facebook.
Despite characters deeply riddled with problems and faced with impossible challenges at every turn without the reward of a traditionally happy ending or even a conceivable moral to the story, Lee somehow managed to relay an uncanny truth. That not everyone knows where their path might lead, or even which path they would want to take. And that’s okay.
In all honesty, I had been sceptical as to the quality of an earlier work – if practice makes perfect then wouldn’t having read her more recent novel first, have inadvertently resulted in disappointment by way of my heightened expectations?
As I finally cracked open the paperback, I found myself truly surprised that my doubts had been so completely unjustified and misguided.
Aside from the moving foreword that would inspire even those who had never dreamed of writing a novel, the skill with which Lee had expertly carved her words painted a more vivid and engaging world than I thought possible.
Free Food for Millionaires speaks a simple truth to those with five-year plans and those taking it one day at a time; to the lone wolf and the family-man; the avid bookworm and the casual reader alike: In spite of the many obstacles that could come your way, it is the choices you make (even the mistakes) that add colour to life.
So if you’ve ever felt uncertain or worried about what the future may hold, or even if you’re just looking to lose yourself in a good story for an hour or two, pick up this page turner and learn to appreciate all the little things in life.