Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Multi-generational sagas don't get better than this beautiful story of one poor Korean family that moves to Japan. Spanning the years 1910 to 1989, this book describes the immigrant's experience in a way that is completely relevant today. Min Jin Lee has found the perfect image, the pachinko board, to represent the uncertainties in life. I haven't read a novel with such emotion since Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. 

— From Kalani

Sunja is the beloved only child of her parents, who live in a fishing village in South Korea. Koh Hansu is a ruthless gangster with strong ties to the Japanese occupation. They meet, have a short affair, and conceive a child together - changing the paths of their lives and their descendants forever. After Hansu refuses to marry her, Sunja decides to begin a new life in Japan. Historical fiction can provide valuable plurality, nuance, and depth to our perspectives of the past and present when it adds more voices to the narratives of well-known events. Lee's beautiful novel recontextualizes almost 70 years of the past century, from the brutality of WWII to Japan's 1990s economic boom, through the bittersweet ups and downs of one family. Once you pick up Pachinko (a National Book Award finalist), you'll hate to put it down - it's full of unflinching historical reckoning and tender-hearted, stoic characters that demand your attention.

— From Christina

February 2017 Indie Next List

“A father's gentle nature, a mother's sacrifice, a daughter's trust, and a son's determination are the cornerstones of this grand, multilayered saga. Pachinko follows one family through an ever-changing cultural landscape, from 1910 Korea to 1989 Japan. As the bonds of family are put to the test in the harsh realities of their world, Sunja and those she holds dear manage to carve themselves a place to call home with hard work, self sacrifice, and a little kimchi. Through it all is a message about love, faith, and the deep-rooted bonds of family. Min Jin Lee gives us a phenomenal story about one family's struggle that resonates with us today. It will take hold of you and not let go!”
— Jennifer Steele (E), Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Top Ten

“Min Jin Lee has given us a treasure. Pachinko is one of those rare novels that changes your perception of history. The characters are complex and fascinating, and the setting is so beautifully drawn that I felt I was right there with them in Korea, Japan, and the U.S. Lee illuminates the history of Koreans during and after World War II, but, more than that, she brings us a haunting yet beautiful story of family, devotion, lies, politics, and, of course, the game of pachinko.”
— Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA


Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post
In this gorgeous, page-turning saga, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew.

"There could only be a few winners, and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones."

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters--strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis--survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

About the Author

Min Jin Lee's debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was one of the "Top 10 Novels of the Year" for The Times (London), NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today. Her short fiction has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts. Her writings have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, The Times (London), Vogue, Travel+Leisure, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, and Food & Wine. Her essays and literary criticism have been anthologized widely. She served as a columnist for the Chosun Ilbo, the leading paper of South Korea. She lives in New York with her family.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781455563920
ISBN-10: 1455563927
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Pages: 512
Language: English