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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 desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

19 pages, Audiobook

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Min Jin Lee

17 books6,863 followers
Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko (Feb 2017) is a national bestseller, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads. Lee’s debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (May 2007) was a No. 1 Book Sense Pick, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Wall Street Journal Juggle Book Club selection, and a national bestseller; it was a Top 10 Novels of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air and USA Today.

Min Jin went to Yale College where she was awarded both the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. She attended law school at Georgetown University and worked as a lawyer for several years in New York prior to writing full time.

She has received the NYFA Fellowship for Fiction, the Peden Prize from The Missouri Review for Best Story, and the Narrative Prize for New and Emerging Writer. Her fiction has been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts and has appeared most recently in One Story. Her writings about books, travel and food have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times of London, Vogue (US), Travel + Leisure (SEA), Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine. Her personal essays have been anthologized in To Be Real, Breeder, The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Work, One Big Happy Family, Sugar in My Bowl, and The Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time. She served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea.

Lee has spoken about writing, politics, film and literature at various institutions including Columbia University, French Institute Alliance Francaise, The Center for Fiction, Tufts, Loyola Marymount University, Stanford, Johns Hopkins (SAIS), University of Connecticut, Boston College, Hamilton College, Hunter College of New York, Harvard Law School, Yale University, Ewha University, Waseda University, the American School in Japan, World Women’s Forum, Korean Community Center (NJ), the Hay Literary Festival (UK), the Tokyo American Center of the U.S. Embassy, the Asia House (UK), and the Asia Society in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong. In 2017, she won the Literary Death Match (Brooklyn/Episode 8), and she is a proud alumna of Women of Letters (Public Theater).

From 2007 to 2011, Min Jin lived in Tokyo where she researched and wrote Pachinko. She lives in New York with her family.

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5 stars
212,108 (49%)
4 stars
158,614 (36%)
3 stars
48,535 (11%)
2 stars
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1 star
2,205 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41,769 reviews
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,388 reviews581 followers
February 26, 2017
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 tangents she took. Take it with a grain of salt. Especially if you are not the kind of reader that is bothered by vastly changing style of approach within one book. I am!

The first third of this book is nearly a 5 star perfection for character development, place reality, era feel, and boding wars of surround. In cultural mix and clash, in politico straining for the working day existence in Korea (Busan) under Japanese governmental domination.

Isak is a saint. His landlady and Sunja- they are sublime and so real. You know them as you have known a Scarlet O'Hara or a Dorothy in Kansas. I'll remember them. And those two married couples and their ultimate striving, movements and eventual Osaka, Japan bound lives. Leaving Korea and the death sentence that Christian belief insured. The world at war a mere background, but closer wars and constant work their every breath.

And then the second third of the book. The boys' stories. Hansu, yes- but mainly the boys' years of their growing up in Osaka. The Japanese defeat years within Japan with their Korean ethnicity. This is clear and yet convoluted. Not linear and direct as the first part. But yet, it is 4 star in the friends of each, the characters of mentoring, the parents and the Aunties' core purposes. The differences of languages and custom and most of all- for association and work. It's a good wider tale, and well done, kept my interest. Which gives out eventually in this parsing for a wider look at Osaka and the upcoming Pachinko connections for family support. Just a game in a parlor! But in doing so, the epic length and detail for this family is becoming broader, although shallower- much like a river near its delta- it's becoming defused and silt laden. The pure core of clearness for the first Korean situation is getting more progressively lost.

And then the last third of the book from the late 1960's onward to its conclusion! This is barely a 2.5 star read. It jumps. Relationship and context become abrupt. Many tangent issues of intersect to the story become sketchy. Is this new character or that one introduced to merely become an example for a group label or thesis issue? We find none of the individual character self-realizations or deep core connection coming from text connotation or the visuals (as went so beautifully within the first third of the book). But instead any clarity, if any, is coming from conversations of the bemoaning failure or nasty hanger on. Dialog becomes harsh. Style is jagged and changes abruptly as well. Description quickly becoming 10 pages of angst or venting conversation for a character who is then "dealt out" of the context or continuation of this plotting within a mere 3 lines somewhere in the next chapter? Huh!

Whatever was the style causation for this last third of the book- it was a mistake. She had too much to say? The grandchildren's stories should have been a separate book. The great-grandson's with the ultimate Phoebe dichotomy QUESTION of vast location decision for identity of placement- the crux pivot. This decision on where to live FOR that identity of the individual- quite another whole book. That last would have made a great story if she would have followed the style of nuance and purity for those first 2 couples who lived within Busan and knew who they were. That one could have potential to be superb. Not added within 3 paragraphs, or as an afterthought for a partial closure.

So- how do you judge this book? Not in 40 words, that's for sure.

I enjoyed the first half much more than the last. But I did read every word and read this slowly. There was an absolute intrigue for me- to answer a question "to or for" myself about how these people would "self-describe". Are they Korean? Are they Japanese. They hold passports from South Korea, even those who have never been there. And getting Japanese citizenship? Well, you decide if that is a realistic possibility. Japanese want to be "the same" at their very cores- difference can and does equate to unmannerly and "wrong".

As much as I did enjoy the factual minutia of these times and places, and the mix of modes and fads displayed by those who lived them. I also became quite aware that this essentially, in the last 50 or 60 pages of the book- holds a very anti-Japanese animus. Which became more and more openly revealed. I would say it is a prejudice, just as equal to the one the Japanese held for Noa.

So I can only give it 3 stars. It's a tremendous effort. Places and characters here are often superbly detailed. Min Jin Lee just bit off far more than she could chew, IMHO. Trying to get every victim or condition "label" issued for a human being since the middle of the last century into some action or subplot was also not a wise move.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,172 reviews8,386 followers
March 25, 2017
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 author traced these themes and historical elements through the lives of her main characters, to be a fascinating experience and probably one of the most educational novels I've read in a while. The attention to detail was also excellent. I felt like the author created really grounded settings for the characters, and I enjoyed seeing how she moved the story forward with historical shifts and how that reflected in the fate of her characters' lives.

Alternatively, that same thing I enjoyed sort of ruined the experience for me. Because she covers SO much history and SO many characters—in, albeit, a quite lengthy book (nearly 500) pages—I never felt connected to anyone in particular. I thought it started out alright, picked up around page 80 and stayed strong for the remainder of that section. But then we jumped in time so much and through so many characters, that I never understood why I should care about them, only that they were related to previous characters. Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing does something similar, but her time period shifts are consistent and contained, and there is a more linear and clear understanding of how and why she is moving the story along in that way. With Pachinko we moved from character to character through the years with no real explanation as to why we are back with them. So I'm left wondering, "what about that other character? Where did they go? When will we see them again, if ever?"

And on top of that, she literally ends chapters or sections of the book with something along the lines of [not a real spoiler, just an example]: "And then he died." And we find out in the next chapter that 5 years have passed, we are seeing everything from some other characters perspective, all this stuff in their lives has changed, and the dead character is briefly mentioned and never returned to. I found it frustrating to follow, ultimately unsatisfying, and a sort of cheap way to tell a story. It's like she tried to inject all the drama of these big life events—pregnancies, death, runaway family members, etc.—without justifying or following through with any of it.

The writing style was very straight forward. It suited the story since overall it was a detached 3rd person telling the narrative of the generations of this family and their lives. But I didn't find the writing to be compelling enough to look forward to picking up the book. If I don't have either amazing characters or plot, I want really good writing, and this was just okay.

I know a ton of people have loved this book and given it 4 or 5 stars, but I just didn't feel that way about it. Maybe it was overhyped for me, and in combination with the things I've said above it just didn't affect me in the same way. But I'm glad others are enjoying it, and if you aren't bothered by those elements in a story you will probably really enjoy this. It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, is clearly well-researched and sweeping, but I felt like it didn't have enough of a thread to convince me to pull for it. It just ended up unraveling as it went along and I lost interest.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
November 9, 2017
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 century. It follows four generations of a Korean family through the political turmoil of Japanese colonization, the hardship of wartimes, seeking a new and better life in Japan, and witnessing the home they left become divided into two countries they hardly recognize.

As someone who knows very little about Korean history, this book was absolutely fascinating. Rich, detailed characterization draws us into the lives of these people and, at least for me, teaches us a chapter of modern history we might not have been aware of.

Many Koreans found themselves forced to move to Japan to find jobs for their families, but they faced discrimination and disgusting living conditions when they arrived. Pachinko, we soon find out, is a kind of Japanese arcade game, and working in a pachinko parlor was considered a typical job for a Korean looking to get ahead. Many Japanese looked down upon pachinko parlor workers, viewing them as shady and dishonest - or just, you know, Korean.
And this is something Solomon must understand. We can be deported. We have no motherland. Life is full of things he cannot control so he must adapt. My boy has to survive.

It was both interesting and deeply saddening to hear about what these people went through, how easy it was for Koreans to be imprisoned indefinitely without trial. And after years of hardship and discrimination, after pushing through and finally earning enough money to have stability, many could never go back. Korean-Japanese (third, fourth, fifth generation even) were refused citizenship in Japan but most came from North Korea, a place they could no longer safely return to.

This is both a fictional and a true story. The fictional characters the author creates come sparking off the page - from the resilient Sunja who once foolishly believed in the love of an older man, to Noa who will never quite recover from the dishonor of his lineage, to Solomon who is still trying to escape the negative stereotypes associated with Koreans many years after his grandmother arrived in Japan. And it is a true story because much of this book was the reality for many Koreans.

A deeply affecting read and a look at an area of history oft-forgotten outside of East Asia.

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Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 120 books159k followers
July 26, 2017
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. I read this in one day because I simply could not put it down. By far one of the best books I've read this year.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,519 reviews8,987 followers
January 3, 2018
One of the most brilliant and heartbreaking books I have ever read, I would like to thank Min Jin Lee for writing Pachinko and starting my 2018 with this splendid saga. Pachinko follows four generations of a Korean family who move to Japan amidst Japanese colonization and political warfare. The novel starts with Sunja, the beloved daughter of a poor yet well-respected family, whose unplanned pregnancy has the potential to bring great shame upon her life. After she learns that the baby's father already has a wife, she refuses to stay with him and instead marries a sickly and kind minister who moves with her to Japan. Throughout the novel we see the consequences of this choice, both through the joys of this family as they support and survive with one another, as well as the challenges and losses they experience as Korean immigrants in an unforgiving new country.

I feel so humbled and impressed by how Lee intertwines the personal and the political in Pachinko. She develops characters with deep emotions and complex yet clear motivations. She then shows how these characters' lives are impacted by issues such as racism and xenophobia, classism and gender discrimination, body image and intergenerational trauma, and more. Lee pulls this style of writing off so well because she captures, with elegant and straightforward prose, how these oftentimes abstract concepts directly affect her characters. We see how Sunja fights in every way possible to ensure a good life for her children even in the face of consistent barriers related to her gender. We see how Noa struggles to reclaim his identity after a blinding betrayal in a country that devalues Korean individuals. We see how all of these characters' love for one another is tested by history and the forces of prejudice, discrimination, and disenfranchisement. Lee writes the most captivating scenes, introspections, and dialogue that reveal her characters' hearts even when the world around them contains so much chaos.

I also want to commend Lee for the resilience she imbues her characters with. Despite the persistent sexism and racism they experience, Lee shows how the perseverance of women, the strength within female friendships, and the power of individual action all can create and maintain love within a messed up society. She does not minimize or glorify the suffering her characters face. Rather, with compassion and empathy, she reveals how her characters adapt and strive to thrive and love one another amidst all of their hardships. In the acknowledgements section of the book, Lee shares that this story has been with her for almost 30 years. I can see all that time within these pages, as the love and effort she has poured into this book and its multiple drafts comes across clear as day.

Overall, a fantastic novel I would recommend to everyone. I could write multiple essays about different parts of this book (e.g., the role and economic implications of pachinko parlors, the tenacity of women and female friendships, the intergenerational transmission of trauma and social status, etc.) but I will just say that a book club could discuss this one for hours and hours. As a second generation Vietnamese American living in the United States, I have felt so inspired by Lee's book to think about my family's many sacrifices coming to the United States, as well as the ways I have coped with and adapted to various forms of racism and colonization. I am excited to see what other reads 2018 brings, and I already know Pachinko will stand as one of my favorites.
Profile Image for emma.
1,867 reviews54.4k followers
May 12, 2023
sometimes you need to pick up an international bestseller that everyone adores, that has been called a best book of the year it was published by a million publications, that is book club fodder for the foreseeable future, that is casually referenced in conversation by people who don’t read at all, that skyrockets its author to fame, that everyone says made them cry and shake and see the world differently…

just to be like, yeah. you guys were right.

this is just so good. as good as everyone says.

i love a generational family drama more than almost anything. i fall in complete love with the characters and miss them forever, without fail, immediately, every time. this book has that, AND stunning writing, AND a pachinko motif that is just wonderful, AND incredible themes, AND an ending that made me tear up.

what a ride.

bottom line: no one is waiting on my recommendation to read this, but just in case - read this!!!


the cries-at-endings girl is crying at an ending again.

review to come / 4.5 stars

currently-reading updates

5 star prediction time

tbr review

being very unique (adding an international bestseller on goodreads)
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews599 followers
October 28, 2019
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 imagine sharing her life with a man who has another wife & family.

Another boarder, Isak, offers to marry Sunja and raise her unborn child as his own.
After conversations they have - including sharing with Sunja's mother wanting her blessing--Sunja concludes Isak is not a fool as her mother feared at first - but an angel.
Isak had one request. He believed strongly in his Korean Christian faith. Isak and Sunja traveled to Japan where they would live. Isak was going to become the new young pastor in Japan. As Korean immigrants in Japan - Sunja, Isak and their young child, Noa, face challenges living in Japan. Koreans are discriminated against by the local Japanese. It's not easy to be a pastors wife. Korean's must be on their BEST BEHAVIOR. "One bad KOREAN RUINS IT FOR THOUSANDS EVERYWHERE and one bad Christian hurts tens of thousands of Christians everywhere". Christianity in Japan is among the nations minority religions.
Sunja had to be PERFECT..... always on her best behavior. Being Korean, Christian Faith, and a pastor's wife.... she had three strikes against her from the start of 'becoming' a mother living in Japan.

Once in Japan, the family faced many struggles - hard to find work was a major concern....fears of how to get by financially. They were living in poverty, racism, ....but what was really sad to me was the stress that grew 'within' the family... as the family grew --in years and in numbers.

To me -- there are two stories going on - side by side: A political-historical story between the cultures - and relations between Korean and Japan from the early 1900's to the present day --- focusing especially on the period when Korea was under the Japanese occupation. I have a theory why many people don't know much about this history. It's my personal thoughts that one of the reasons American's know so little -- is that Pearl Harbor came shortly after this time --and it seems to me that wars prior that time - just before - were in the shadows - forgotten about in history. The Rape of Nanking is another example of a long forgotten period of history -- when the Japanese invaded China in the early 1930s.

The other story going on in Pachinko -- is the personal family story. The 'blurp' to this book says it best: "One Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea. "A sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history".

"Members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity". I really cannot express this novel any better......
unless I begin to give spoilers .....

For those who read it--- am I the only person left with questions about Noa?

Its my opinion that this book is best read when you have a long weekend. Best to curl up and spend long days reading - get swept away. The writing is lush --gorgeous- -
Min Jin Lee has written a sublime line soap opera about the ways in which people treat one another ---abandon and save one another. There is a message of hope and love.

Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
March 22, 2017
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 in various places in Japan, but this is a Korean story about four generations of a family spanning decades. I found myself easily engaged because I was so taken with the strength of this family who are living a difficult life of hard work, barely keeping a roof over their heads and meager food on the table. Hoonie, a young man with physical disabilities finds happiness in an arranged marriage to Yanglin. A daughter, Sunja is born bringing joy, then heartache. It is Sunja's story that takes us to Japan and expands into a family saga of her children and their children.

So many things are depicted here - family bonds and love that moved me to tears at times, the discrimination of Koreans, even those born in Japan, culture and religion, identity, not just based on your birth place but who your family is . While this is about that experience of Koreans in that time and place, it is ultimately about good, honest, caring people who manage to move through their lives as they deal with the things that life hands out to everyone including illness, death, disappointments.

I was curious about the meaning of the title. What does Pachinko mean? "Pachinko (パチンコ?) is a type of mechanical game originating in Japan and is used as both a form of recreational arcade game and much more frequently as a gambling device, filling a Japanese gambling niche comparable to that of the slot machine in Western gaming." (Wikipedia) It becomes clear in the novel what Pachinko is to this family as it becomes a business some of the characters are in. More than that, I saw it as a metaphor for so much of what happens. Every decision made by the characters is taking a chance, a chance that they hope will move them forward, will give them a good life in spite of the hard things they endure. Isn't that what most of us do? This is a long novel and while the last part was not as gripping to me as the first two thirds, I recommend you take a chance on it.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing through NetGalley.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
April 17, 2019
‘living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.’

wow. i am speechless. this story is a bittersweet portrait of family, the sacrifices that must be made for those we love, and the resilience to see through the outcomes of our choices. i am so moved by this story.

across four generations, two opposing nations, war and constant struggle, a family lived. a family lost. a family learned. and a family loved. min jin lee has so beautifully, and somewhat painfully, crafted a novel that has taught me so much. through their intertwining personal and political circumstances, i have come to care for this family.

i know that many readers could not get attached to the writing style of this book, but all i could see was the intention. there is so much purpose behind every word, every sentence. i thought the straightforward nature of the writing was needed. there is no sugarcoating the trials koreans faced in japan, and so i appreciate lee for her candid writing.

there is so much that can unpacked and dissected about this story, but i just cant get over how heartbroken i am. this is a definite must read!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,749 followers
March 23, 2018
In the sweeping and monolithic Pachinko, Min Jin Lee documents four generations of a Korean family in Japan from 1910 to 1989. First conceived in 1989, Lee worked on this novel for over 25 years and what a masterpiece she has to show for all her work. Only really comparable in scope to Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle, Pachinko is an education as well as a flawlessly crafted story. It theorises on an ugly aspect of Japanese society and the people who struggle against this open prejudice.

What I know about the history of Koreans in Japan wouldn't fill the back of a postage stamp. To call my knowledge of the culture and politics of east Asia in the 2oth century a blindspot would be offensive to actual blindspots. (Honestly, all my knowledge of Japan comes from Sondheim's Pacific Overtures) What I'm saying is that I probably know minus-information about this area of the world and its history. So Pachinko was a real history lesson for me. But, as the Financial Times' review put it, 'we never feel history being spoon-fed to us.'

Lee imbues the history into her characters. Through them we witness WWII and the division of Korea, the stories and journeys of the millions of post-war Korean migrants in Japan (a people known to the Japanese as the Zainichi), and the frank bigotry that many of them (and their subsequent generations) faced in Japanese society. One of the novel's best characters, the Dickens-loving Noa, is described as having to 'pass' for Japanese and even hides his true Korean identify from his wife and children. I had no idea about any of this stuff and it was truly eyeopening.

But the novel is not just a history lesson: it's a veritable soap opera. I described it to one of my friends as 'Maeve Binchy goes to Asia'. There are twists and turns in Pachinko that would have caused Jackie Collins to down the driest martini. Love, marriage, betrayal, kimchi, death. I mean, the yakuza play a very significant role in this novel. It's a blockbuster of a book. Your mother who only reads Danielle Steel deep-cuts would get as much enjoyment out of this as a thesis student in Asian Studies.

I devoured Pachinko. It is a somewhat dense 531-pages but I had to constantly pull myself away from it. If left to my own devices the whole book would have been conquered in just one prolonged sitting. Sunja's story captivated me, Noa's story intrigued me, Mozasu's story broke me, Hansu's story enraged me, Solomon's story gave me hope, and Yangjin, the woman who starts it all, she enthralled me from page one.

It is difficult to think of any novel published in the last couple of years that is even comparable to Pachinko. One year since its publication and it has already been deemed a modern classic. Min Jin Lee has created a literary juggernaut. And I loved it.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book2,120 followers
April 10, 2022
Reading this book was something like having a hard boiled egg for breakfast every day, without any salt, and maybe it's a little past its fresh-date, too, but it's good for you, and never forget that some people in this world don't get any breakfast at all.
Profile Image for Sam.
142 reviews338 followers
February 10, 2017
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 hurdles extremely compelling, from family shame of out of wedlock pregnancy to hunger and pride and war-time privations. Min Jin Lee does a phenomenal job of weaving the stories of the individuals of the Baek/Bando family within the larger Korean immigrant experience in Japan and commenting on their social and political exclusion and discrimination, all the while tying it together with beautiful, descriptive prose that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages faster and faster. I was eager to learn more and follow these family members further, but I also wanted to the story to go on as long as possible. It's ambitious, and Lee pulls it off masterly in my opinion. Four stars from me: not an instant classic I'll put on my immediate re-read list, but I wouldn't be surprised if I do pick it up again in the years to come.

There are so many great ideas floating throughout - what makes a nation? where is home? who is your family and what lines of loyalty do you follow? to pass, or to be defiantly (or shamefully) what one is? shame versus forgiveness - but Lee never hits these ideas over the head explicitly: they come to life in the thoughts, actions, and dialogue of the characters, softly and subtly at times but ultimately unmistakable. There's a lot to unpack on an intellectual level, and though I knew some things about the Japanese occupation and horrifying sexual slavery of Korean (and other occupied Asian) women as wartime "comfort women" and other pieces of the complex, complicated Japan-Korea historical relationship that only in recent years is beginning to fully normalize, I was consistently learning new ideas and words and concepts I'd never heard of prior, but these were introduced well and explained within the context of the story, so I hoovered up the information easily and eagerly.

It's the family that provides the emotional push to read. I found Lee's style to change slightly as the setting and time period change, from beautiful but simple, quiet prose during the 1910 - 1930 portion on the little, provincial island of Yeong-do in Korea, to maintaining its beauty but upping the punch and zip as the family changes location to Japan and enters the modern era, with the eerie, looming mood of pre and during WWII giving way to a slightly more upbeat and fresh tone with the family's bettered circumstances in 1950 - 1989, but tempered by their Korean background and outsider, unwanted status in Japan. The simple kindness of Hoonie whom kicks off the family but we never get to know well, and his strong, smart wife Yangjin; the quiet grace and devotion of Kyunghee and her husband Yoseb's evolution from man of strength and shame to fraility and greater shame; the endurance and resolution of Sunja, the engimatic, sometimes villianous but also pitiable Koh Hansu, the Christian paragon and family renewer Isak; the goodhearted, bold Mozasu as a foil to his studious, solemn half-brother Noa and their comparative experiences of passing in Japan and how they experience and internalize shame (for different familial reasons in addition to their shared Korean heritage)... the Baek/Bandos are a layered, loving bunch with some difficult relationships between them but all sharing a passion to succeed, to carve out a home and a family, to be an example (most of the time) of good, hardworking Koreans in Japan, to transcend their marginalization and be seen, be worthy.

I would heartily recommend this to lovers of family and historical epics of varying lengths, lovers of beautiful but easy reading prose and where lots of plot and events are occurring but the writing is calm so you don't feel overwhelmed by the action, and those with an interest in Japanese and Korean-set historical fiction and really getting a painless education into a complex political and cultural connection.
Profile Image for Candi.
622 reviews4,714 followers
April 9, 2018
"… 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. How could you get angry at the ones who wanted to be in the game?... Pachinko was a foolish game, but life was not."

I hadn’t really understood exactly what pachinko was before reading this novel. This book and Wikipedia have educated me on the topic. The way I envision pachinko is as a cross between a pinball machine and a slot machine. It’s a gambling game, where the odds may be fixed and the results controlled by outside hands rather than by those actually operating the handle. But folks will return again and again and spend hours in front of this parlor game with the hope of winning the big one. Pachinko can also be likened to the lives of the numerous characters that populate this generational family saga and historical fiction novel. They make choices, they pull the lever if you will, sometimes controlling what happens to them, but very often affected by the outside influences of others, especially those with more power. Some of the characters in this book work for or run pachinko parlors, but the reader spends very little time in these gaming facilities –I would have been running in the other direction otherwise!

What this book does provide us with is a rich story about a family that finds its roots in Korea during the early 1900s and straight through to late 1980s Japan. I love learning about countries and cultures of which I know nothing or very little. This book did not disappoint in that aspect. Much of this is heartbreaking, frustrating, and even maddening – due to the multiple injustices suffered by this Korean family both in their home country under colonial rule by Japan, as well as in Japan where they emigrated in search of more opportunities, safety and security. What they often found there was hatred and racial prejudices. They faced identity crises that some were able to rise above and others were not fortunate enough to overcome. I didn’t realize that the Korean people that moved to Japan during those years suffered to such an outrageous and unbearable extent. They were often discriminated against in the workplace, receiving lower wages than their Japanese counterparts. They were called names, considered lazy, even referred to frequently as criminals. Their living conditions were run-down. Children were bullied in their schools. The only alternative to these conditions seemed to be to return to Korea – but this means of escape was even worse following World War II with the widespread starvation and the introduction of communism in the north. So, the family remained in Japan and made a life, despite the oppression and limitations they faced.

This book was rather hefty, but I never tired of it. I did learn so much about the culture, the politics (though not heavy-handed), and a bit of the history of both Korea and Japan. There were many characters as the novel covers a lengthy span of time, but I never grew confused. I did feel a bit of a distancing from the characters themselves, and they were not quite multilayered enough. I savor wonderfully complex characters. One character, a young man named Noa, may have fit the bill here, but a couple more multidimensional individuals may have enriched this aspect of the book a bit more for me personally. However, I did feel much sympathy towards many of the family; their struggles were real and quite believable. I most admired the women who fought so hard for their families, their children, and worked tirelessly to survive and make ends meet. They were resourceful and brave despite their very quiet and unobtrusive bearing. The last two-thirds to one-fourth of the novel felt a bit more rushed and I was slightly less invested in the storylines of these characters than I was in those initial players. However, I found this to be very well-written, educational and engaging so I can’t really give Pachinko less than 4 stars. Recommended if you are a fan of epic family stories, immigrant struggles, and/or historical fiction. I would be more than happy to read more of Min Jin Lee in the future.

"Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage."
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews762 followers
February 16, 2022
While reading the book I was quite immersed and didn't want to put it down. I think the writing was pretty good and I was able to lose myself in the plot. I do think it felt quite long at times, as do other historical fiction novels when they follow multiple generations, but it was understandable here since it was following Korean colonization by the Japanese into the present. I did find the book less strong towards the end. I didn't love how things played out with Noa or Solomon to be honest but especially Solomon. I don't know how to explain it but the ending didn't feel like it fit in with the rest of the book. I think its because pachinko didnt come across to me as some unifying idea or theme in the book so it felt weird and clunky that Noa ends up working in the pachinko business as well and that Solomon is implied to end up doing it also at the end of the novel. Maybe I'm missing some context or deeper meaning but I think the feeling that is awkward stems from the fact that pachinko isn't even part of the narrative until what feels like much later on in the book and it doesn't itself feel important to the plot outside being how Mozasu earns money. Anyway happy to hear explanations on what I may have missed since I don't know much about pachinko itself.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
760 reviews569 followers
October 5, 2022
Pachinkois a multi-generational, character-driven saga spanning the 20th century, beginning in colonized Korea and ending in Japan.

Reasons why this story got 3 stars from me:
1. Overall, I liked this story about one hardworking Korean family's struggles and triumphs while living in Korea and eventually moving to war-torn Japan;
2.The development of the main characters was good! I could sense their anxieties, even when things were going well for them;
3. I received an in-depth history lesson about the interactions between Korea and Japan - the specific, yet unfair laws put in place towards Koreans living in Japan, the intense discrimination between the cultures, the degrading brazen sexual and/or violent treatment of women; and,
4. I also learned a lot about Korean culture, specifically its cuisine, language and religious beliefs.

Reasons why this story lost a couple of stars:
1. this story was much longer than it needed to be. The long, involved side stories that didn't seem to go anywhere were wearing me down; and,
2. I wished the narrator changed up the tones and pitches of the characters' voices in this audiobook. Often, I didn't know who was speaking, male or female, because it all sounded the same to me.

This isn't a bad story. I'm probably in the minority, but for the reasons I listed, it isn't a book that I will be putting on my "Favorites" bookshelf.
Profile Image for David.
671 reviews337 followers
March 20, 2017
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 impossible. In Japan, ethnic Koreans are seen as second class citizens and even now are still shut out of higher positions.

We follow a Korean family struggling to survive in that environment. The language is plain and unadorned but wields tremendous emotional heft. There are parts that just destroyed me but it never descends into misery porn. And while it moves at a languid pace through time I could have happily stuck around for another 300 pages.

This is a beautiful story of family and notions of home that feel even more relevant in today’s political environment. It touches on aspects of passing, of not only surviving but succeeding in an adopted country that can be hostile to your very identity. Quite simply, I loved these characters and the book just blew me away.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,142 reviews2,758 followers
August 11, 2018

I had this in my TBR queue for ages. It took making it a book club selection to bring it to the front of the line. It’s described as an epic tale of generations of Koreans in Japan and epic truly describes it. I felt like I was reading one of James Michener’s sagas.

I loved Sunja. She is just so strong. She’s not only part of the underclass, but a woman to boot. She struggles but always finds a way to persevere.

There is nothing better than a well done historical fiction. This one fits the bill. I knew next to nothing about the Japanese annexation of Korea and the issues that followed. And I knew nothing about the Koreans that actually lived in Japan. I remember from WWII that Koreans were considered inferior by the Japanese. There are multiple points in this book when the way the Japanese treated the Koreans reminded me of how blacks were treated here in the US. The same prejudices. And the same belief by the underclass that they needed to be so much better to make it.

This is a long book but it’s a fast read. I got so engrossed with the story that the pages flew by. I found the first half of the book much more interesting than the second. As the number of characters increased, we learn less about each and I felt like there wasn’t the depth to anyone of them. It made it much harder to relate to anyone. I almost felt the book would have been stronger if it had ended sooner.

Profile Image for El Librero de Valentina.
278 reviews20.5k followers
August 4, 2021
Historia conmovedora de una familia coreana durante la ocupa japonesa. A través de varias generaciones descubrimos los sinsabores, la pérdida, amor y desamor, la injusticia, la carencia y en instinto de supervivencia de los personajes.
El final, precipitado, sin embargo una historia muy recomendable.
Profile Image for julieta.
1,167 reviews21.9k followers
September 11, 2022
Wonderful book about a Korean family that emigrates to Japan. She describes the tension, the changes, and the culture so well, that I felt like I learned a lot about Korea, japan, their cultures, their complex relations. Just wonderful. Totally recommended.
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
466 reviews672 followers
February 21, 2018
Rating 3.75

I had gone back and forth on reading this one. I would get it from the library and return it. But it was a National Book Award finalist, so it should be good. My library got the audio and I had to wait months to get it, so it should be good. It's historical fiction and I love that, so it should be good. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I had many issues with it.

Pachinko tells the story of several generations of one Korean family. You first start out, learning about this family and how they live in Korea. But then, due to war, they are moved to Japan. Eventually we learn of Sunja, a young peasant girl, the daughter of a poor family who runs a boarding house for fishermen. She becomes pregnant at a very early age, which is scandalous. But one of the boarders who knew of her father, marries her and takes her to Japan. You learn about her history and her children and children's children. This is one family sweeping saga that spans 70-80 years. You learn the strife of Koreans living in Japan, the racism that they faced, assimilating into Japanese culture, the customs and ways of the Japanese. That part I loved hearing about. I loved hearing about Korea and the food, it took me back to a trip that I had to Korea. Then, we switched to Japan, which I just adore. You learn of the Pachinko parlors as one family member runs. Oh the pachinko parlors, they were absolutely insane. Think Vegas amplified, with lots of wild colors, and high vibe atmosphere. I really enjoyed being able to think back to my time there. But the book was too long, it often jumped around. I really enjoyed learning about Sunja, her parents, and her children. But when her children, got older, it seemed to be all over the place. It cover many topics such as racism, war, strife, suicide, gay men, loose women, the Yakuza, AIDS, and more.

I think this book could have been trimmed down quite a bit. I was really loving it, thinking it might be a 5 star read, but then it seems to throw in so many topics, and some were glossed over, or I did not get the resolution I desired. The final 1/4 of the book was totally not needed and really drug the book down for me. I might have gone lower on my rating but I loved more than 2/3 of the book, I couldn't let that ending drag it down. Overall, glad I read this one. I ultimately picked it up for my Japanese reading challenge. Though focused on Koreans, much of the book takes place in Japan. So this was a perfect fit for the challenge.
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews626 followers
April 7, 2019
“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”

Wow! What a sweeping, beautiful and heartbreaking novel this was. An emotional read about exile, discrimination, identity and generational/cultural expectations. This book follows a four-generational family, originally from Korea, living in Japan.
It shows how our decisions can have an effect on many things in our future lives.

This book first takes place in Korea, 1911. It starts with a couple who have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja is enamored by a local yakuza: Hanku, she soon falls pregnant and unbeknownst to her, after the discovery of pregnancy, she learns that Hanku is already married and with his own children. Due to the highly placed value of female virginity in Korea, the family faces ruin from Sunja's pregnancy. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation for the family: a new life in Japan as his wife.

To bring salvation to herself and to her family, Sunja follows the minister to Japan to live in a hostile country. Here she faces severe discrimination from the Japanese for being Korean. She moves to a country where she has no friends or home. The book then details her life and those of her family's over the generations.

This book details the tensions of being Korean in Japan and how this is maintained over generations. It shows a part of history that is not always mentioned and not that well known. While the character's struggle with their identity in a hostile country, it shows determination to persevere and endure.
Profile Image for Dea.
186 reviews
March 1, 2017
The writing was simple, often unfocussed. The main characters from the beginning of the novel get lost as time progresses until they just disappear from the story altogether, while minor characters are sometimes given a POV chapter and then never seen again. The book feels emotionally withholding; seemingly important scenes like a character’s death or a man in Nagasaki during the bombing are given only a few paragraphs or worse, cut entirely. Instead, the book has pages of TV show descriptions. In fact, the reader doesn’t witness any character’s death, and after someone dies, the book immediately glosses over the character and they are rarely mentioned again. The time jumps here are awkward.

What I really did like was the very core of the story: generations of a Korean family struggling to make it in Japan. The racism, prejudice, and bigotry are very clearly laid out here, and as an American, the tensions between Korea and Japan are never taught in schools. This is a piece of world history that I think few Americans know or understand, so this definitely has an important message.

Ultimately, the book lost me for two reasons. One, Lee has introduced far too many characters than she can control. Two, the scenes that would encourage me to care for the characters are missing. The story and the characters are superficial and shallow, unfortunately, and no one gets the closure they deserve.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-galley.
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
August 3, 2019
Pachinko is an epic historical saga following a Korean family through four generations as they fight for survival in Korea and Japan. At its heart, the book is a tribute to the immigrant experience and the need in all of us to find a place that we can call home and feel like we truly belong.

The portrayal of what it's like to be a Korean living in Japan while the Japanese viewed them with loathing and knowing that Koreans back home viewed them as traitors is visceral and haunting. The author managed to depict each character with so much humanity while their circumstances strove to strip that from them. I didn't know much going in about the conflict between the Japanese and Koreans, and it was eye-opening to learn the feelings of hostility and resentment that endured even decades after the war had ended.

The book also captures so much of immigrants' hopes and dreams for their children to live a happy life free from war and famine. The author masterfully delves into the search for success and belonging while having to make unthinkable trade-offs.

The writing style is straightforward and beautifully stirring. For such a long book, I was hooked from page one, and I finished it surprisingly quick. I found the first half of the book to be slightly more compelling, as it focused on just a few characters and I was able to feel closer to them. As the book went on, more characters are introduced in the second half as the family gets larger through the generations, and flipping back and forth between different people lost some of the book's urgency and brisk forward motion. But that is really a small quibble in this stunning literary piece.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
October 25, 2020
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee

Pachinko is the second novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee.

Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan. The character-driven tale features a large ensemble of characters who become subjected to issues of racism and stereotypes, among other events with historical origins in the 20th-century Korean experiences with Japan.

In 1883, in the little island fishing village of Yeongdo, which is a ferry ride from Busan, an aging fisherman and his wife take in lodgers to make a little more money. They have three sons, but only one, Hoonie, with a cleft lip and twisted foot, survives to adulthood. Because of his deformities, Hoonie is considered ineligible for marriage.

When he is 27, Japan annexes Korea and many families are left destitute and lacking food. Due to their prudent habits, Hoonie's family's situation is comparatively more stable, and a matchmaker arranges a marriage between Hoonie and Yangjin, the daughter of a poor farmer who had lost everything in the colonized land.

Hoonie and Yangjin eventually take over the lodging house. In the mid 1910's, Yangjin and Hoonie have a daughter named Sunja.

After her thirteenth birthday, she is raised solely by her mother Yangjin, her father Hoonie dying from tuberculosis. When Sunja is sixteen, she is pursued by a wealthy fishbroker, Koh Hansu. Sunja becomes pregnant, after which Hansu reveals that he is already married but intends to keep her as his mistress.

Ashamed, Sunja reveals the truth to her mother, who eventually confesses it to one of their lodgers, a Christian minister suffering from tuberculosis. Baek Isak, the minister, believes he will die soon due to his many illnesses, and decides to marry Sunja to give her child a name and to give meaning to his life.

Sunja agrees to the plan and marries Isak, traveling with him to Osaka to live with Isak's brother and his wife. In Osaka, Sunja is shocked to learn that Koreans are treated poorly and are forced to live in a small ghetto and are only hired for menial jobs.

Sunja's brother-in-law, Yoseb, insists on supporting the entire household on his own salary, but Sunja and her sister-in-law Kyunghee come to learn he is in heavy debt due to paying for Sunja and Isak's passage to Osaka. To pay for the cost, Sunja sells a watch given to her by Hansu. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه آگوست سال 2019میلادی

عنوان: پاچینکو؛ نویسنده: مین جین‌ لی؛ مترجم: گیتا گرکانی؛ تهران نشر هیرمند‏‫، 1397؛ در 672ص؛ شابک 9789644085208؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان کره ای تبار آمریکایی - سده 21م‬‬

کتاب «پاچینکو»، رمانی نوشته ی «مین جین لی» است، که نخستین بار در سال 2017میلادی منتشر شد؛ این رمان بسیار موفق و جذاب، داستانی حماسه گونه، درباره ی چهار نسل از یک خانواده ی فقیر و مهاجر «کره»ای، و تلاشهای آنها برای به دست گرفتن کنترل سرنوشت خود، در «ژاپن» سده ی بیستم میلادی را روایت میکند؛ در اوایل دهه ی 1900میلادی، نوجوانی به نام «سونجا»، که دختر ماهیگیری معلول است، در ساحل نزدیک خانه اش در «کره»، عاشق غریبه ای ثروتمند میشود؛ مرد غریبه، به «سونجا» تمام دنیا را وعده میدهد، اما وقتی «سونجا» میفهمد، که باردار شده، و معشوقش نیز متأهل است، وعده و وعیدهای او را نمیپذیرد؛ «سونجا» در عوض، پیشنهاد ازدواج مردی موجه، و مریض احوال را میپذیرد، که مسافر «ژاپن» است؛ اما تصمیم «سونجا» برای ترک خانه، و نپذیرفتن پیشنهاد پدر فرزندش، ماجراهایی پر فراز و نشیب را، به وجود میآورد، که تا چندین نسل ادامه خواهد داشت؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,131 followers
May 23, 2019
A rich and vivid story spanning nearly 100 years from Korea at the start of the 20th century to pre-war Osaka and finally Tokyo and Yokohama.

Pachinko is a long novel that is beautifully crafted, elegant, passionate with characters that you find yourself rooting for and caring about while reading and will remember long after the novel has ended.

" A club footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen year old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sonja. When Sonja falls pregnant by a married yakuza the family face ruin. But a christian minister offers a chance of salvation, a new life in Japan as his wife."and Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of this sweeping saga.

There are many wonderfully imagined characters in this novel but the characters of Sonja and Kyunghee really brought this book to life and for me captures what it is to be a daughter, a mother, and a wife in any coulture. There was so many times these two woman near broke my heart in this story and I loved how strong and memorable they both these women were.
This is a story of what it means to be an outsider in a foreign country and the struggles that go with trying to fit in and yet trying to maintain and hold on to a little of the past and couture they were born into.

A real page turner, a story with a heart and soul, full of likable and dislikable characters that will have you hooked from page one and you will have difficulty parting with on finishing the novel

I came across this book while book browsing in a book store and overheard a lady ask the store assistant to recommend a multigenerational type book that would keep her attention over the christmas period and the assistment recomemmended Pachinko and after she gave a brief synopsis of the story I decided I had to have it too and this is why books stores and their staff are worth their weight in gold and we readers should tap into their book knowledge every time we visit a bookstore.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy multi generational novels, historical fiction or character driven novels. I think this would also make an excellent book club read as there is so much here to discuss.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,286 reviews1,329 followers
March 7, 2018
We are deemed to be the directors of our lives and its consequences. Truth be told, we then become the receptors marked by the shadows of others upon us.....given and taken away.

Min Jin Lee begins her story in 1910 in Yeongdo, Busan, Korea with Hoonie, plagued by physical impairments, and his wife who live in a small fishing village. These are the first stones in this multigenerational family mosaic. After many miscarriages and infant deaths, they are overjoyed at the birth of a healthy daughter, Sunja.

Sunja thrives with her parents' love and the tradition of hard work within their small boardinghouse. She becomes acquainted with an attractive man, Hansu, from the village and meets him in a secluded area. He is smitten with Sunja. It is now that Sunja's stone in the mosaic will take a curved turn. She becomes pregnant and the married Hansu cannot take this relationship further. A benevolent minister, suffering from tuberculosis, offers to marry Sunja, but in doing so, the couple must move to Japan for his ministry. This stone is cast farther into the unknown.

Sunja and Yangjin will live with his brother and sister-in-law in a tiny house in the part of the village designated for Koreans. And here the mosaic takes on a darker hue. The Japanese treat the Koreans as "unclean" and they are ridiculed throughout this time period as the Japanese eventually inhabit Korea itself. As war threatens, food and a sense of livelihood becomes scarce. Yangjin and his fellow ministers are arrested and taken to prison by the Japanese for not bowing to the image of the emperor. His brother must take care of the family now. The mosaics flow tragically in a downward spiral.

Throughout Pachinko we will experience individuals desperately making decisions that will affect this family profoundly. Jealousies, passions, dark secrets, and hatred will visit upon them. The internal cog of this wheel results in painful instability in this family while the outer rim is bent by conditions outside their realm. History and its aftermath can be a cruel master.

What struck me the most is the single thread of loss of identity as two countries inhabit what was once separate domains. It becomes the oppressed and the oppressor. The Japanese culture overshadows all that is Korean in language, religion, and certainly in social status. Later, Korea finds itself in a dust storm eventually by the Russians and even the Americans as events unfold.

Pachinko, a lengthy undertaking, is filled with an undying spirit in which we all can relate to no matter where the beginning of your mosaic takes place........the supreme sacrifices and love of those who came before us as you stand blessed in the light of that reality.

Profile Image for Nilguen.
230 reviews76 followers
February 22, 2023
Pachinko is a novel that has been a once-in-a-lifetime reading experience to me!

Learning a great deal about Korean-Japanese people over a long time-span encapsulating three generations, I was very much moved by Min Jin Lee´s evocative and inspiring narration that revolves around life and purpose.

Much of the novel deals with the pressures immigrants face having a bi-lingual upbringing and multi-cultural identities. Historical facts around Korea and Japan are also very well researched, insightful in analysis and conveyed to the reader in bite-sized chunks.

The interplay of characters in this family saga is well described with the narrator´s perspective switching from character to character. This omniscient point of view narration helps me as a reader to empathize much deeper with each character. I was able to dwell in the minds as well as the behaviours of all characters.

I became very attached to Sunja, the protagonist of this great novel, whose plight in fate and despair as a woman moved me very much. I admired her magnetic beauty in her youth to her ever-resilient lifestyle as she ages. So much despair in the terrain of the unknown, and yet Sunja´s story is the catalyst of her family´s destiny spanning over decades!

Absolutely recommending this book 📕.

BTW: Let´s connect on Instagram: @nilguen_reads
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,069 followers
December 18, 2020
¡Me ha encantado! Aunque creo que las expectativas pueden jugarte una mala pasada con este libro. Por las diferentes cubiertas que tiene y lo que había oído de él, pensaba que iba a encontrarme con una novela Histórica ambientada entre Corea y Japón, de esos dramas Históricos que tanto me gustan, pero ralmente Pachinko no es eso.
Pachinko habla del racismo, de encontrar tu propio camino y a ti mismo, de la discriminación que sufrieron los coreanos en Japón durante todo el siglo XX. Incluso el inicio del libro que es la única parte ambientada en Corea, tiene una importancia vital la ocupación Japonesa y la relación entre coreanos y japoneses.
Dicho esto, esta es una novela con la que he aprendido mucho y que me ha impresionado en muchos aspectos, no deja de ser fría a veces, llena de saltos temporales y situaciones trágicas, pero al mismo tiempo encuentras en ella la calidez humana y la importancia de la familia.
Se trata de una saga familiar, pero la figura central es Sunja, una joven que emigra a Japón a principios del siglo XX y donde pasará el resto de su vida, llegando a contarnos cómo es la vida para esta familia hasta los años 90. Conoceremos la historia de sus padres, la de sus hijos y nietos ya nacidos en Japón pero nunca ciudadanos japoneses, con ese estigma siempre presente de no pertenecer a ningún sitio y no ser aceptados nunca por los suyos.
Es una historia, que a mi, más que entristecerme, me enfureció. Y lo bueno que tiene es que entendemos mucho de la sociedad japonesa de manera poliédrica, lógicamente el punto de vista es el de unos coreanos maltratados por su país de acogida, pero también obtenemos otras visiones, como las de algunos japoneses que por ser diferentes jamás pudieron encontrar su lugar en una sociedad tan hermética.
En fin, es uno de estos libros que da pie a reflexionar sobre muchas cosas y que enseña otras tantas al lector. No creo que literariamente sea nada del otro mundo, y ni siquiera consigue que te impliques con la mayoría de personajes (aunque sí que los comprendas perfectamente), pero logra fácilmente que esta enorme tragedia de 500 páginas sea una lectura adictiva y deja un gran poso en el lector.
Al menos eso es lo que a mi me ha pasado.
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