Book - 2017
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A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires , for readers of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone .

Profoundly moving and gracefully told, 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. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.

So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
Publisher: New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781455563937
Branch Call Number: LEE M
Characteristics: 490 pages ; 24 cm


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From Library Staff

I named this is my top favorite release of 2017, because Min Jin Lee completely blew me away. The characters are so memorable that even months later, I can still think about them and feel wistful. The setting is one of heartbreak and survival - as Koreans living in Japan before and after WWII, th... Read More »

LPL_KimberlyL Nov 02, 2017

An eye-opening family saga about the treatment of Korean citizens in Japan, and what they must do to overcome extreme hardships and improve their lot in life. The characters in this novel will pull you in and keep you entranced to the final page. At just under 500 pages, this doesn't feel like a ... Read More »

"In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family until a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and move with her to Japan, in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question." -... Read More »

Also available as an ebook!

Nominee, Fiction

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May 27, 2018

This sweeping character drama is set in Korea and Japan between 1910 and 1990. During this time, Japan had colonized Korea and the Koreans living in Japan were often treated as lower class humans. The suffering, perseverance, and ultimate success of stoic Korean women is a central theme in this book. Richly detailed characterization dramatically brings this fascinating chapter of East Asian history to life.

May 25, 2018

2017 National Book Award

lindab1111 May 03, 2018

It felt like I have read this book before. Different country, different names but the same basic story of families being forced to flee villages, women's plight of trying to find love with a man who has money, and so on. Perhaps I'm thinking of Lisa See or Amy Tan. Anyway, I stayed with it till the end.

May 02, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It’s long, and not for nothing does Lee cite Dickens in her epigram to Part 1 of the book (“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest conjuration”). The book evoked Dickens in its sweep and length, and I found it entirely engrossing, luxuriating in a whole Easter Sunday to sit and finish it in one big gulp.

Read my complete review at:

ArapahoeJulia Apr 13, 2018

This book was incredible, I loved reading it. The author gave every character a voice, you even got perspectives from characters that didn't end up being main players, which gave the reader a more well rounded story.

Apr 04, 2018

Story follows a families journey from Korea to Japan through the 1900s. The effect of Japanese culture gave new life to some Koreans but also was very limited by Japanese Culture and their seemingly ingrained views. Would like to understand the history of 1900s Korea a bit more. People want to preserve their culture yet there are so many refugees in the world mostly caused by war/bad politics..... a lot of food for thought and the importance of kindness and tolerance all over our world. The book did slow a bit as the story changed between characters in the 2nd half only to pick up again once story line re-emerged. Very enlightening!

DPLjennyp Mar 27, 2018

Dickensian tale of a Korean family living in Japan through the generations. Sweeping and lyrical, to be savored.

Mar 26, 2018

Epic story spanning from PreWW2 to 70's - story of immigrants (Koreans in Japan). I read it until late at night.

Mar 23, 2018

PACHINKO is a sprawling saga that follows 4 generations of a Korean family who immigrate to Japan in the mid-twentieth century. This lengthy piece of historical fiction gets its title from a popular gambling pastime of Japan which is a cross between pinball and a slot machine. This “game of chance” is introduced midway through the book and plays an integral role to the story and character arcs, but what’s more, author Min Jin Lee deftly uses it as a metaphor for life. PACHINKO offers a fascinating look at history, culture, race, class, identity, and family. Although the final third of the book didn’t “grab” me as much as the rest, I would still recommend it, especially for fans of character-driven period/foreign dramas.

Cynthia_N Mar 17, 2018

I was expecting something a little more peaceful but this family goes through quite a few trials. It was somehow harsh to read and beautiful.

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Aug 23, 2017

Sexual Content: explicit sexual content


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