Book Reviews and Highlights

Free Food for Millionaires

Min Jin Lee

  • Asian American
  • Coming of Age
  • Fiction
  • Literary
  • Sagas
  • ISBN- 13: 978- 0- 446- 58108- 0
  • COPYRIGHT | Page: 2
  • I could not answer when they asked kindly when my book would be available to purchase. I hid my failure by staying home.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • I was a history major in college, but for pleasure, I’d taken three writing classes in the English department.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • However, the more I studied fiction, the more I realized that writing novels required rigorous discipline and mastery, no different than the study of engineering or classical sculpture.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • Always a reader of the nineteenth- century greats, I read more widely. I read every fine novel and short story I could find, and I studied the ones that were truly exceptional.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • Julia Glass’s Three Junes,
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • Junot Díaz’s stories in Drown,
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • Great fiction required not just lovely words or fine feelings, it demanded emotion, structure, ideals, and bravery.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • How did you do that? How did you send me into this whole other world of your creation? How did you make me feel these new and old feelings? How did you keep trusting that it was all worthwhile?
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • I surmise that what distinguishes a Harvard Business School student is his confidence in his abilities. I have never been in a building so filled with young people who look like they can do anything and want to solve very difficult problems.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • This life was unexpected. I told myself that I could not be so afraid of judgment that I would hold back. And so I did not.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • When I sold the manuscript in the summer of 2006, I counted eleven years as my apprenticeship. I was thirty-seven years old.
  • ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 2
  • Our crowns have been bought and paid for—all we have to do is wear them. —JAMES BALDWIN
  • EPIGRAPH | Page: 2
  • COMPETENCE CAN BE A CURSE.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 3
  • The unholy trinity of law, business, and medicine seemed the only faith in town.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 5
  • Casey wasn’t indifferent to her father’s pain. But she’d decided she didn’t want to hear about it anymore. His losses weren’t hers, and she didn’t want to hold them.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 8
  • To Casey, it seemed upside down to call a minority person a racist, or a woman a sexist, a poor person a snob, a gay person a homo-phobe, an old person an ageist, a Jewish person an anti-Semite. All these labels were carelessly bandied about at school. But she admitted that it was possible to hate yourself and easy to hate others because you’d been hated.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 31
  • And equally true was that smart girls wanted to be beautiful in the way beautiful girls wanted to be smart. Size fourteen bibliophiles could love clothes as much as size two heiresses who shopped to fill their time. Everyone scrounged for an identity defined by objects.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 42
  • Casey had vowed never to have the typical Korean church wedding with about five hundred guests who showed up without having been invited, the reception with a groaning buffet of Korean food served by a team of lady volunteers in the church basement, no alcohol in sight.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 46
  • She felt like giving up. In her mind, she could hear Ella asking her to tell her who she was. How was she supposed to do that? How could anyone tell you who you are?
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 64
  • How was it possible to give affirmation to the winner when you were so clearly the loser?
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 65
  • To a Ted, she was too tall, too plain, and too much of a talker. Her family had no money. He had made his view of her clear. He believed that her present circumstances were justly deserved.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 80
  • He tried hard, and so did she; the difference between them was that he’d already figured out what he wanted in this life—money, status, and power—and she wasn’t so sure about the things she wanted, preferring pride, control, and influence. Yet what each sought was
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 83
  • The only thing that made any kind of impression on people who were easily provoked was to persuade them of your efficiency and competence.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 86
  • Walter swept his right arm to the ceiling, gesturing like a ring-leader, and said, “It’s free food for millionaires.”
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 91
  • But she didn’t know how she felt about money or free things. Her father always said there was no such thing as a free lunch.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 91
  • In her few months on the trading floor, Casey felt occasionally exhausted by the dick-swinging quality of Kearn Davis, and it was a relief to spend time with women who were not mainly focused on beating one another.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 121
  • She suddenly hated him for being an American and herself for feeling so foreign when she was with him. She hated his ideals of rugged individualism, self-determination—this vain idea that life was what you made of it—as if it were some sort of paint-by-numbers kit.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 122
  • When something went wrong, the first emotion Casey touched was shame. But here, the shame was below the surface. It was deep and vast. There was no way out of this, she thought.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 150
  • It wasn’t that a white person couldn’t comprehend what it was like to be in her skin, but Jay, in his unyielding American optimism, refused to see that she came from a culture where good intentions and clear talk wouldn’t cover all wounds. It didn’t work that way with her parents, anyway.
  • BOOK I: Works | Page: 154
  • Casey pushed the sandwich away from her. She hated looking at it. The sandwich was like everything else she ever bought on credit—it was uglier or less pleasurable when she possessed it, because the thing she’d bought reminded her that she was out of control, selfish, destructive, greedy.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 165
  • Sabine believed that in America, a kind of blended natural selection could operate: If you worked harder, thought more independently, knew who your rivals were, and had the right guides and necessary support, success was inevitable. In some ways, she was irrationally optimistic. She also thought God was bunk.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 167
  • “Every minute matters. Every damn second. All those times you turn on the television or go to the movies or shop for things you don’t need, all those times you stay at a bar sitting with some guy talking some nonsense about how pretty your Korean hair is, every time you sleep with the wrong man and wait for him to call you back, you’re wasting your time. Your life. Your life matters, Casey. Every second. And by the time you’re my age—you’ll see that for every day and every last moment spent, you were making a choice. And you’ll see that the time you had, that you were given, was wasted. It’s gone. And you cannot have any of it back.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 168
  • He had wanted first place, the grand prize, the best of whatever was worth getting: education, job, girl, and house. Two points determined a line, three points determined a plane, and four made a thing that much more stable and with greater dimension. Just that morning, he’d had those things. In less than a day, they’d slipped from his grasp.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 181
  • A spectacular failure was better than safety. Sabine wanted individuals to honor their greatest ambitions. All superior things—all things worth knowing, possessing, creating, and admiring, she’d observed—had begun with vast, impractical wishes. She hated smallness of character. Sabine hated fear.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 190
  • Notice how people behave when they’re desperate—that’s who they are, he warned.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 190
  • Nothing kind or good came without expectations or demands.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 199
  • It was such a curious thing when you thought back to someone you loved: It was possible to remember the unspoiled things, and doing so lit up a bit of the sober darkness in your heart, and all the while the memory of the hurting cast its own shadow, dimming your head with the nagging questions of ifs and why-nots.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 212
  • Through clothing, Casey was able to appear casual, urbane, poor, rich, bohemian, proletariat. Now and again, she wondered what it’d be like to never want to look like anything at all—instead, to come as you are.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 219
  • She paid attention, the kind of attention that almost didn’t exist anymore. This was her gift. So few people did this for each other. Giving someone your attention—with the greatest amount of care she could muster in whatever allotted time period—was far more precious than any kind of commodity.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 224
  • Expect nothing and never disappoint; never harm and be kind. Enjoy the moment.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 245
  • “I know.” Casey bit her lip. “I’m crazy. Poor and stupid. This is the reason why poor people stay poor, you know that? They spend all their money on pride.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 248
  • “You were right, I think. I’m just teasing you. You can’t contract out your life. If you took her money, she would have expected you to do things for her. It’s just her way. I think you’re very brave.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 248
  • “I have twenty-three thousand dollars in credit card debts,” Casey blurted out. She didn’t know why she said it. Maybe if he saw her the way she was, he wouldn’t sign up.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 250
  • Casey understood Jana a little better lately—they’d consumed and consumed, and at a certain point, it didn’t matter if they tried to act normal. To be healthier, they’d have to make drastic changes.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 251
  • Taking care of yourself came with a strain. And in life, there were many disappointments for which you couldn’t prepare.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 267
  • “This is all useless, stupid talk. What does it matter what Tina looks like?” Joseph said this, facing Leah. “She’s going to be a surgeon. It doesn’t matter how she looks or what she wears. That stuff is garbage. A surgeon has to—”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 267
  • “My daughter’s supposed to be a surgeon. That’s what I told everybody. That’s what they think you’re going to be. That’s what you said.” Joseph was stunned by this change. Did he not understand her English? What was endocrinology? He felt as though she’d lied to him. “What do you mean?” he asked, his throat choking up.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 267
  • For years, he’d pictured Tina’s medical office where she’d see her patients and her working in an operating room. Saving lives. These pictures had puffed him up with pride and happiness. It was as Tina had said, like on television, but his daughter had been the star. What was she talking about? This was her life—how could the girl be so careless about it?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 268
  • Outside the plate-glass window, the streets were strewn with the well-heeled residents of Sutton Place—good-looking older women with ash blond hair and men wearing polo shirts and khaki trousers being led by terriers on ribbonlike leashes.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 268
  • Leah looked straight at the young man. He had a nice face, full of warmth. A good forehead—open and generous—and handsome ears with thick lobes. And he spoke Korean, pleasing her greatly.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 269
  • Leah nodded, and Joseph gave a small smile. He’d noticed Unu’s ears, too—indicating good fortune.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 270
  • Leah had spent six thousand dollars on the gifts. She’d given Joseph the receipts, and he’d never said anything about the expense. This money had come out of their retirement savings. Engagements could be broken off if inferior presents were given, and there were instances where daughters-in-law were beaten or resented from the memory of a bad gift. This was what Leah had wanted to avoid.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 273
  • Casey couldn’t help but tote up the cost in her head. Five hundred dollars? The gifts had all come from Macy’s.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 273
  • Her father had taught her to take on the suffering, to donate her whole self to the interests of others, to give everything up because God would take care of your every need.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 274
  • The Baeks were undoubtedly rationalizing that the Hans were ssangnom, trying to act better than they were by giving such expensive things.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 274
  • Generosity was always suspect.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 275
  • Chul’s parents made seven or eight times more than her parents. These weren’t people who shopped at Macy’s normally, and none of them would have worn less than cashmere around their throats. They’d gone out of their way to let her family know its place. It was mean to Tina, but Casey saw that it was also mean to Chul.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 275
  • There was no fight for the check. Joseph paid it, and Howie had cut it down to a third of its cost.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 276
  • Women were just better at faking their feelings.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 280
  • Chul and Tina danced to a Whitney Houston song, and at Joseph’s request, the father-daughter dance was skipped, but Chul danced with his mother to “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 281
  • Casey liked them suddenly this way, for their innocence and absence of cynicism at such a gimmicky contrivance.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 292
  • Feeling poorer than she’d ever felt, she craved every bit of luxury and feared never having any more, and what made it worse was that she was ashamed of wanting it so much, to consume it, to incorporate it somehow into her body. She didn’t want to feel poor anymore.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 292
  • Money made her feel ashamed, angry, and afraid. And she had done it to herself. She’d dug the grave, one handful of dirt at a time.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 301
  • Wall Street was about plundering and making as much money as possible. Did it even matter how?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 301
  • For her, hell would look like a room lined with laundry baskets overflowing with unpaid bills, message machines blaring with the voices of creditors, and she their sole debtor.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 306
  • Kearn Davis didn’t bother to recruit at Stern; the only New York business school they recruited from was Columbia. Sabine had been right after all. Names mattered so much.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 306
  • What threw her was the fact that he was with another Asian woman—as if they were cogs to be replaced on a machine. That was the problem with fetishes, wasn’t it?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 308
  • Sabine’s husband, Isaac, once said that when a child was born, his birth signaled that you were dying. Grim. So instead of choosing his child and what her life required, had Ted chosen himself—his life and his pleasure?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 312
  • Casey had already picked up the phone and was ordering. He counted four entrées, soup, rice, fried noodles, and a vegetable. Who would eat all that? he wondered.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 315
  • She felt defeated again by life. What was the point of being clever and hardworking and not knowing what to do?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 315
  • How could he possibly direct this ragtag bunch of immigrants who wanted to sing to their Jesus?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 320
  • At every opportunity, he spoke about his personal sacrifices for Jesus in terms of time, talent, and money that he could’ve earned doing something else.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 321
  • His father, the famous professor, used to say that the first day of class was the most important: “Establish your authority from the top, and never yield in the beginning. Later, you can be more flexible. Never, ever begin with softness.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 322
  • Life, to Charles, was a series of related acts, and those who succeeded in life seemed to understand the necessity of consistent performances at a high level.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 323
  • Like the Kim twins, Mrs. Koh, a widow who worked twelve hours a day as a cashier at a fish market in Queens Village, made a deliberate attempt to erase her vocation through water and heavily perfumed soap.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 327
  • “You must understand something: I’m not interested in fairness. And your God doesn’t seem interested in fairness when He gives out talent. I see mediocrity or ambition most of the time. You have talent, but no ambition. That’s why you’re stuck here.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 331
  • He resented like hell the way singers needed stroking—their bottomless need for confirmation of their gifts.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 331
  • “Do you really care that your little soprano buddies are angry with you? The best is always shunned. Do you really care more about approval than about praising your God? Don’t you care at all about Mr. Jun’s last service? I saw you sobbing up there last Sunday when he announced the news.”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 331
  • “Don’t be a sheep. You’ve already lost so much. If you’d only fought for your own—”
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 331
  • “This is why I never work with Koreans. They are so goddamn stuck. You must choose yourself over the group.” Charles said these things, not caring if Leah even understood his meaning. He was angry with his family, with the immigrant communities in New York, even the artists he knew who weren’t Korean who kept on wanting to compromise. An artist, a real artist, couldn’t do that.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 332
  • Charles had no intention of giving up his art to make room for a steady job or crying babies, because to him, a life without music was insupportable. Without it, he would have certainly put the gun in his mouth.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 332
  • Charles wiped tears from his face with both hands. Leah pretended not to see, wanting to protect his pride.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 333
  • Before walking into this bookshop, Casey hadn’t realized just how much she’d coveted her friends’ authority and ease with literature.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 337
  • This year, you read Thackeray, Hardy, and Eliot. Either you’re a slow reader or you read the same books over and over. Last year, you read Anna Karenina for a long time. You’ve read some of the Americans: Cather, Hemingway, Dos Passos, and Sinclair Lewis. Nothing past 1945, almost. Almost never anyone French.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 338
  • “No one notices old men,” he said, smiling. This was something he’d started to understand in his early sixties: You’d be invited to fewer things, that young people didn’t want to be around you, and middle-aged people didn’t think you had much to offer. What humbled Joseph was that he had been no different when he was a young man.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 339
  • He didn’t want to touch his retirement savings again to make rent. Summer was coming up, and sales were predictably slow then. It was his goal to have a good Christmas season to recoup his prior losses.
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 341
  • Money had always been a kind of burden to her. If she had it, she spent it, and when she didn’t have it, she worried about how she should live. She wished she had enough so she wouldn’t feel so anxious all the time. Would there ever be enough?
  • BOOK II: Plans | Page: 341
  • For a marriage to last, Ronald believed that both partners should possess a stubborn will, a fear of failure, and a strong sense of shame of breaking from convention—mind you, this was not a recipe for a happy marriage, but it could make two people stay married.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 347
  • Life just kept threatening you, pushing you into harder corners, and you had to resist, otherwise hell would take over.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 351
  • “Ella is a gourmet cook. But she doesn’t make much Korean food. Says the cookbooks aren’t very good. But she knows how to make kimchi. She found a recipe in The New York Times. Isn’t that funny?”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 363
  • For this was love, wasn’t it? To have someone clean up after you, to think about you when you were sick, to not walk away when there was nothing to be gained for the labor required. Yet the task was also enormous; it would take a person all day to clean up this kitchen.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 367
  • In his weakness, Leah permitted herself to possess greater authority in her voice.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 374
  • At night when she lay in bed with the down comforter pulled up to her chin, Casey found herself praying for one thing—that she hadn’t made another incredibly expensive mistake with her life by going back to school.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 378
  • not appreciated the blinding privilege and protections of an Ivy League degree until she went to a school without the cooling shade of its green leaves and silky tendrils.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 380
  • Jay Currie used to call Sabine her fairy godmother, but it was really Isaac who felt like the godparent, not by what he gave her in terms of things or experiences, but by his acceptance of her. It was a form of wealth bestowed upon you when a good person took you in like that.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 380
  • Lately, she’d been feeling that her servitude to Sabine had gone on for too long. Even if Sabine handed her the retail empire of Sabine’s for a fraction of its market value, the option she would expect in return was a binding indenture enforced by gratitude. How did you quantify that?
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 380
  • Casey had so much fight in her, but she seemed always to want to fight it alone.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 382
  • Casey nodded. This was how successful people got what they wanted, she thought. They just forced outcomes. She gave a small wave to Isaac and went up the stairs.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 382
  • Casey was beginning to understand that what mattered was not what you could do, but what you believed you could do.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 383
  • This was what Casey wanted to know: When life didn’t go your way, was it because it wasn’t meant to or because you didn’t have the faith, or was it that you couldn’t make it so by the labors required of you?
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 384
  • “Life is filled with many complicated tasks, and no one, Casey, no one can do things alone. It’s very slow going if you choose that path.”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 386
  • “And why do you act as if poor people shouldn’t have any choices? Must I always take what’s offered? Must I always be grateful?” Casey brushed the hair away from her face.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 387
  • “No, he thinks you should take a job, and a job should be a job and not something that you could love more than God.”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 392
  • The quantity of food at the buffet was obscene: industrial blocks of cheese, punch bowls full of pasta, platters of red meats and cutlets, horn-of-plenty baskets overflowing with breads and pastries. There was a whole wall dedicated to desserts.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 397
  • In life there were so many things you couldn’t afford, yet you couldn’t bear to go through it without some hope, and you had to at least visit your wishes periodically.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 398
  • It felt intimate to speak to her in Korean, and it reminded him of how it was with the Korean women he’d slept with before he’d married his white wives, who didn’t speak it or have any interest in learning. There were so many things you could say in a native language that made the moment immediately private.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 410
  • Charles’s second wife had a keen interest in numerology. She’d left him on the day generated by her numerology software.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 411
  • There was such an obvious sweetness in this woman, he thought. She also had some infatuation for him. This happened when you were a teacher. Students fell in love with you.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 412
  • Charles was a modern man, and the lives of Korean women, in his view, were far too narrowly circumscribed. And religion made it even more so.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 412
  • Leah did not think much about sex, except as something she should do to help her husband, but it crossed her mind that it might be different with Charles. The thoughts filled her with shame.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 414
  • There was a debt owed to a person who gave you beauty and feeling.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 419
  • “Don’t let anybody tell you you’re nothing just because you’re poor and Oriental. They’re wrong, Teddy. You’re my son. But, Teddy, don’t come back to this stupid place. I’ll come to see you. I never want to see you living in Alaska.”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 426
  • “Mom, let’s talk upstairs.” His Korean was awkward. The inflections didn’t match his adult voice, and he found that his words were slipping away. What was the word for divorce?
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 429
  • “The wife you choose will be your personal and social mirror. She is how you see yourself,”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 431
  • You could love two people at the same time. It just wasn’t practical.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 442
  • Casey thought it was despicable how he toyed with women. That kind of attention was addictive, and the need would inevitably grow bottomless if you let yourself get hooked.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 450
  • “Karyn, really, I don’t mind. I like to work.”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 451
  • Take Karyn, for example. You don’t like her. And she’s probably hoping that you’ll call her for a date. It’s preposterous how much unearned power you have.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 456
  • And as for headhunters, the aphorism they followed was: The hired were hired away, the fired would stay that way.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 474
  • It had taken her a decade of therapy to figure out this invaluable lesson: Your truest feelings led you to greater and greater success in life. She had accomplished nearly impossible goals by recognizing her finest and ugliest feelings and everything in between.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 493
  • Many of the women at church labored sixty to seventy hours a week in small businesses without pay or breaks. When home, they faced chores and took care of their children besides.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 500
  • Sex was often bracketed by both humiliation and flattery; awkwardness and beauty were found in the spaces between. She had learned that her body had value to herself and others.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 517
  • How did the girls leave behind their children and husbands, with dinners unmade, houses left to clean, all to come and sing for her, a sinner?
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 519
  • “George, honey bear. You are not responsible for everyone. He’ll tell you when he’s ready.”
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 521
  • The Street seemed to function on the slash and burn—live for this crop cycle and forget next year. Then whatever, he’d thought, he’d gamble it all, because what was the point of accumulating everything anyway or building something up?
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 528
  • Good people who are kind are not common.
  • BOOK III: Grace | Page: 534
  • That a young woman growing up in America with such enormous freedom and advantages could somehow carry with her this unconscious sense of historical suffering was something I considered throughout the writing of this book.
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • I love the phrase you say to preschoolers: “Use your words.” But grown-ups don’t always have the words either, yet they, too, have all this feeling. I wanted to show that kind of emotional illiteracy and frustration sympathetically in this scene.
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • It is only in fiction that all the dimensions of personality and behavior may be witnessed.
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • Who are your favorite authors, and which are your favorite books? George Eliot: Middlemarch Charlotte Brönte: Jane Eyre William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair Sinclair Lewis: Main Street Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure Honore de Balzac: Cousin Bette, Lost Illusions Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary Junichiro Tanizaki: The Makioka Sisters
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • I heard in a sermon once that the definition of self-control was to choose the important over the urgent. I think as a writer, it is difficult but necessary to defer gratification and to do the work and to keep doing the work regardless of its prospects.
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • For nearly twelve years now since leaving the law, I have often felt ashamed for wanting to be a writer and doubtful of my talents. What helped in these moments was to consider what was important, rather than the urgent feelings of embarrassment and helplessness.
  • QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH THE AUTHOR | Page: 561
  • I can be critical of how this country works, but I also respect its ideals of rugged individualism, the Protestant work ethic, and the American entrepreneurial spirit.
  • ON WRITING FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 561
  • In this book, I handed my characters all sorts of gifts: education, good appearances, talents, strong family structures… and I wanted to see what they would do with their ambitions. They also received trials and caused some troubles of their own. Would race, class, immigration, and gender politics affect them?
  • ON WRITING FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 561
  • If an Asian American, or anyone for that matter, is not given a voice and language with clear expression and evidence of feeling, his humanity is denied.
  • ON WRITING FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 561
  • It is an ever-present concern for me that in our collective wish to succeed and assimilate, we, as Korean Americans, will not make trouble or not say what we think or feel.
  • ON WRITING FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 561
  • I hope this book pleases you. Thank you for reading this. It means a great deal to me to have your attention and time.
  • ON WRITING FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES | Page: 561