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 »

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Nominee, Fiction

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TechLibrarian Feb 02, 2018

I chose this book for several reasons. One, it was nominated for the 2017 National Book Award. Second, it's a family saga, and family sagas are a genre I tend to gravitate towards. Lastly, I like reading to learn about other cultures, and Pachinko is about a Korean family who immigrates to Japan. I was spellbound from the first few pages, which reminded me of Steinbeck or of The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. A little ways in, because I have a big hands on project in the works, I switched to the audiobook. It was just as captivating. I really grew attached to these well developed characters, and also learned lots that I hadn't known about Korean culture, WWII and the Korean war, and especially, the plight or Korean immigrants in Japan. This book requires some commitment, as it's lengthy, but it's really well crafted and worth the time. And, perhaps, timely, given the 2018 Olympics!

Dec 10, 2017

Years in the writing, this sweeping saga following the lives of Korean immigrants in Japan in the last century unveiled new history to me. Poignant, funny, heartwarming, tragic—all features of a good story. Loved it.

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 overly long book. In fact, I comfortably could have kept reading for several hundred pages more if only to stay with this family for a little bit longer. I'm sad to see them go, but I will definitely re-read this in the future and pick up anything else Min Jin Lee comes out with!

Sep 22, 2017

I learned a lot about Korea , and the relationship of Koreans with the Japanese after the war. was astonished at the cruelty.

Sep 05, 2017

I loved learning more about the history of the Korean peninsula. The tale was gripping and I could not put the book down, up until it got into the 1960s or so. After that it seemed to rush through things and not develop the story.

Aug 23, 2017

I love sweeping family sagas and this does not disappoint. But I ended that book about 3/4 of the way through due to the explicit sexual content.

Aug 06, 2017

One of my favorite books of 2017. This multigenerational story tells the plight of Koreans living in Japan, pre-World War II to the late 20th century. There’s so much depth in this story about a woman who had an illegitimate child in Korea, married an honorable man who accepts the child as his own and moves them to Japan. Not only are we introduced to Japanese mafia personalities, we see the extreme racism of the Japanese against Koreans, and how the only place Koreans could find success was in running the Pachinko halls. I was left cheering the strength of the Korean women, crying over the treatment of Koreans and amazement at the ability of the Koreans to accept what was happening to them, knowing that returning to Korea wasn’t an option for them.

May 07, 2017

The series of events spanned 4 generations and started with a Korean couple whose daughter got pregnant with a wealthy man but married a pastor and went to live in Japan. The last third of the book no longer held the interest I had before which was disappointing. I did, however, find interest overall in the further understanding of the struggle of Koreans living in Japan and how it affected their identity, family ties, marriages, loves and losses.

Apr 26, 2017

An awesome beginning, couldn't keep it down till World war II was over. But after that it just dragged. It is NO WHERE close to Kite Runner. in the later half, it became stagnant and boring.

Mar 25, 2017

This is a family saga covering four generations of an ethnic Korean family in Japan. Pachinko, the Japanese type of pinball machine, serves as a metaphor for fate. An interesting view of the Japanese colonization of Korean and Japanese racism.

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Aug 23, 2017

Sexual Content: explicit sexual content


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