Pachinko by Min Jin Lee


Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through d...

Details Pachinko

Release DateNov 14th, 2017
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Asia, Japan

Reviews Pachinko

  • Emily May
    History has failed us, but no matter. Look, I get it. A lot of people won't be interested in this book because they have no idea what pachinko means and what exactly is going on with that cover, anyway? We are highly susceptible to marketing techniques and the cover and title give us pretty much nothing. But hear me out for a minute because this book is really good.This is a historical family saga set in Korea and Japan throughout the 20th centur...
  • Roxane
    What a marvelous, deeply engrossing novel about four generations of a Korean family in Japan. There was a lot of story here and a lot of history (of which I was woefully ignorant) and it is all rendered in impeccable prose with a touch of steeliness. Toward the end of the novel, things started to feel a bit rushed, not enough time with the characters. And certain folks just fell away but such is the nature of a sprawling multi-generational novel....
  • Elyse
    A very enjoyable lengthy historical fiction! *A Jewel*!!!!!Some days Sunja, daughter of the owner of a boardinghouse in Korea, felt chills when she was growing her secret child. If she had agreed to remain the mistress of the rich man in Japan whom she got pregnant with - who was married with 3 children -- she could have been taken care of - and the needs for her child would be met. However - Sunja couldn't agree to the arrangement. She couldn't ...
  • Angela M
    One of the things I like about reading well written historical fiction is that it can take me to another time and place and can be a profound learning experience. I knew close to nothing about the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 through WWII. Last year I read Tiger Pelt which introduced me to this time in Korea which was horrific in so many ways for the Koreans. While this novel begins in a village in Korea, most of the story takes place i...
  • Maxwell
    Alright, after thinking about this one for the last 24 hours or so, I think I've figured out how to articulate what I didn't like about it.But first I want to start with the stuff I did really enjoy. The book taught me a lot about the dynamic between Koreans & Japanese, especially in the early to mid-20th century. I had no idea about any of the historical context within which this book was set. And I found learning about it, especially as the aut...
  • Sam
    Despite this being a 480 pg mini brick of a book, I absolutely flew through Pachinko on two commutes and a night. It's a sweeping, multi-generational epic of a Korean family, and we follow their collective and individual rises and falls, triumphs and failures, in 19010 - 1930 in Korea under Japanese occupation, and in Japan from 1930 - 1989 as expatriates and Zainichi Koreans. The characters are memorable, well-drawn, and their circumstances and ...
  • Cheri
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!3.5 Stars rounded upPachinko is a sweeping family saga listed as being for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.Following one Korean family through the years from Yeongdo, Busan, Korea where a poor fisherman and his wife give birth to a young infant boy. Hoonie, their only child of four to survive, was born with a cleft palate and a twisted foot, in addition to a pleasant temperament and broad shoulders. The year Ho...
  • David Yoon
    Told in chronological order, this book spans 4 generations and nearly a century of time and focuses on Zainichi or ethnic Koreans living in Japan. These Zainichi are essentially stateless citizens registered to Joseon or a unified Korea that hasn’t existed since the Korean War. Up until recently they had to apply for alien registration cards that required fingerprinting every three years and were rarely granted passports making overseas travel ...
  • Jennifer Blankfein
    Pachinko is just the kind of book I love. It starts in Korea in the early 1900s with Hoonie, a young man with a cleft palate and a twisted foot. Despite his deformities he marries and his wife gives birth to a daughter, Sunja. When Sunja is a young teenager she makes some bad choices and ends up pregnant. The man who is to be the father is already married, and Sunja is ashamed of her mistake; but proud and determined she refuses to be his mistres...
  • DeB MaRtEnS
    First and foremost, "Pachinko" is an engrossing, wonderful novel - a saga that follows a family over decades and through immigration, misery and joy, and all that makes a human story richly fascinating. I did not want it to end. This is another book which I hesitated over, after reading political analysis and commentary of the complicated history behind and within the story - the plight of Korea, the diaspora of its citizens who left due to outsi...
  • Jeanette
    Just having finished this behemoth in the last hour, I want to put a disclaimer first. That reading this over a longer period of time than I would usually read a book, even of this length, probably made me MORE analytic than for my usual review. Or reaction. More critical. Because I truly wanted to give it a higher star value. I really did! But I cannot. So don't be scared away from reading it, because I am specific or amused for some of the tang...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Although some of the central events of the novel, like World War II and the atomic bomb drop at Nagasaki, are familiar territory for fiction, Lee prioritizes out-of-the-ordinary perspectives: her Korean characters are first the colonized, and then the outsiders trying to thrive in a foreign country despite segregation and persecution. I recommend Pachinko to readers of family sagas and anyone who wants to learn more about the Korean experience. M...
  • Ellie
    This has been on my list since it first came out and it was no disappointment. This family saga begins with a poor but loving Korean family and follows them through the next three generations and to Japan. Although I was aware of the prejudice Japan had for Koreans, I really had no idea of the extent of it.It is difficult to discuss the book without giving spoilers. Although long, I would definitely call this an easy read. There are no real chall...
  • Lata
    Long, but enjoyable. Though, I probably shouldn't use the word enjoyable to describe the trials and tribulations of the generations of this family that the author follows from the early 1900s to the late 1980s in Korea then Japan. The story follows Sunja, beloved daughter of a poor couple in Korea. After becoming pregnant, a young and sickly pastor offers to marry SUnja and take her to Japan to live with his brother and sister-in-law. There, the ...
  • Rincey
    Watch my full review:
  • Katie
    I'll have a review of this up tomorrow!
  • Tania
    "For people like us, home does not exist.4.5 stars. A beautifully written and insightful story of four generations of a Korean family adapting to live in Japan. The writing is graceful and quiet, a counterbalance to the sometimes shocking and upsetting events in the book. I did not have any idea about the discrimination ethnic Koreans experience in Japan. It took the author 30 years to finish this title, and the amount of research done is evident...
  • Donna
    This was a melancholy book, the little joy present in the characters' lives outweighed by the heavy burdens they had to carry, not only for themselves, but for the generations coming before them and afterward, when living as perpetual outsiders. It was a philosophical book and a book about identity, the loss of it, and how some people had to form new identities to survive while certain others felt tortured trying to escape from themselves, not ev...
  • Diana
    3-1/2 starsI learned a lot from this book. This story takes us across decades through generations. I never heard of Pachinko and both the cover and title really drew me in. I learned about Korean and Japanese history through Min Jin Lee's characters. Sunja's life is wonderful, terrible, happy and heartbreaking all at the same time. For me, I enjoy books more when we have constant characters throughout the whole book. There are constant characters...
  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    Very confused about what to say about the book. I enjoyed the book; but I loved it more for the scope than for the language it was presented. Some characters were relateable but some were not. I kept asking in my head "What is wrong with you? Why are you like this?" As is usual in most family sagas, I did not connect with the last generation in the family tree. But I would highly recommend this novel for the amazing middle portion which addresses...
  • Lori
    Feel like I’ve just read two separate books. I really enjoyed the first half, but not so much the second. The timespan this novel encompasses includes several generations of characters, however, I only really felt connected to the ones from the first part and I missed them in the second. Not crazy about the title & think a better one could’ve work better at representing the subject. I did love learning more about Korea and its resilient herit...
  • Karen
    A gem of a book. I had a hard time putting it down, feeling transported into the lives of a Korean family that spanned generations. I loved each character, feeling the joy and despair in their individual stories. A few even exasperated me, as they made choices which would make their lives more difficult than they needed to be. Author Min Jin Lee brilliantly captures the life of the undervalued hard-working and courageous Koreans and this will be ...
  • Lorilin
    Sunja is living in Korea with her mother when she discovers she is pregnant. When she tells the baby's father, he reveals that he is already married with three children. He loves her, but he (obviously) can't marry her. Though he offers to take care of her and the baby--and is, in fact, excited by the idea of having a young mistress to bear his children--Sunja refuses. Sunja would rather live a shame-filled life than one of dishonesty.But she doe...
  • Ferdy
    Really interesting, a big part of that was down it being set in Japan and Korea, places I knew little about. From the first chapter I found Pachinko enlightening and educational, I had no idea about the struggles Korea had with Japan in the 1900s or even that Koreans were treated as second class citizens and weren't given the same respect or opportunities as the Japanese were. It kind of reminded me how BAME people can be treated in Western count...
  • USOM
    The book does not shy away from portraying a complex situation of their position as Koreans in Japan. Based on history, Pachinko interrogates a deeply troubled relationship of prejudice, discrimination, and injustice. They have frustrating and intricate relationships that are full of real moments of loss, inequality, and chances never taken. The story is a slow burner and it takes pages for the story and characters to unfold. Deeply conflicted mo...
  • RoseMary Achey
    I just love a great historical fiction piece that is so fascinating I find myself researching the time frame or a specific contextual reference. Prior to Pachinko I had little knowledge of the Japanese colonization of Korea from 1910-1945. From this multigenerational story we learn how Japanese rule affected one specific family. If you enjoyed Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook, you will also enjoy Pachinko as it studies Korean mores throug...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    I really enjoyed Lee's first novel, FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES, and getting my hands on PACHINKO was one of my top priorities at BEA this year. Lee has a simple realism that I enjoy, and even though this is a very different book from her first in terms of setting, it's also expertly done.PACHINKO follows a few generations of one Korean family from the 1930's through the 80's. As is the case with this kind of book, it is mostly about legacies that...
  • Sue Dix
    I am going to have a book hangover for a while after just emerging from the world of Pachinko. What a marvelous story. It is full of rich detail about the lives of one Korean family who start inauspiciously in a small village in Korea and wind up in big city Japan. Despite their successes, they are regarded with deep prejudice by the Japanese. And yet, they don't want to leave their adopted country. The title of the book takes on significance in ...
  • Rachel León
    I'm a sucker for multigenerational family sagas and this one is beautiful and so worth reading.