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.
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.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST * A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW TOP TEN OF THE YEAR * NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017 *A USA TODAY TOP TEN OF 2017 Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * #1 BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER * USA TODAY BESTSELLER 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. *Includes reading group guide*
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 Condé 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.