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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by…
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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Min Jin Lee (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7212281,914 (4.08)315
"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. 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"--… (more)
Member:missylc
Title:Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
Authors:Min Jin Lee (Author)
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2017), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:52booksin2022, 2022, read, fiction, Japan, Korea, race, racism, audiobook

Work Information

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017)

  1. 10
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    doryfish: A man marries a woman already pregnant with another's child and they immigrate together.
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» See also 315 mentions

English (222)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (226)
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
This was not what I expected

I expected a heartwarming tale of perseverance and strength. What I got was a heartbreaking drama.

Since this covers the lives of a large network of family and acquaintencrs over four generations there were moments it was confusing whose point of view you were in due to switching back and forth so frequently. The other downside of so many characters is there were important moments I felt were just skimmed over and rushed through. I would have loved more details of the individuals lives, not just the overall story. Felt repetitive at times continually being introduced to a new person and their backstory without ever really getting to know them.

It's hard for me to imagine that so much suffering could befall one family over such a sustained period of time. I had a hard time understanding some of the hardheadedness and choices made. I won't ruin anything but there were a few choices in particular that stood out as hard to believe. At times I grew tired of the constant struggle, as soon as one thing was ironed out something else would go awry.

I truly enjoyed learning more of the Korean and Japanese culture while watcing the transformation through the generations. Although there were definitely moments I was frustrated with this book I knew from a few chapters in I would finish this quickly. It was hard to tear myself away from their stories unfolding. ( )
  NicholeReadsWithCats | Jun 17, 2022 |
Historical fiction family saga spanning early 1900s to the 1990s. It follows a family from Korea under Japanese rule, to the family's immigration to Japan where, as Koreans, they are treated as second-class and face discrimination in all facets of life. Pachinko parlors, successes and heartache snake through the family for several generation.

I had known about the annexation of Korea by Japan, but I never knew about the plight of Koreans in Japan proper.

The talk of/treatment of women, both Korean and Japanese, by some men, was worrisome.

One thing with the pacing which bothered me were the "unceremonious" deaths, several important deaths which occur but are related after the fact, which seem to be "pounced" on the reader, sort of off screen. I guess I wished these were more in the forefront of the narrative. ( )
  deslivres5 | Jun 16, 2022 |
My favorite book of the month. This book is a multi-generational saga about a Korean family’s life in Japanese-occupied Korea during the early 1900s through World War II and finally in modern Japan during the 1980s. It’s a big book that I consumed at break-neck speed. I was so eager to find out the fate of each family member as they faced discrimination, abject poverty, violence, war, loss and love. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading anything by Min Jin Lee from now on. ( )
  MC_Rolon | Jun 15, 2022 |
Pachinko is a sprawling examination of a family and a place and a time over several generations. More specifically, it is an examination of one family's experience as Koreans navigating the unbending world of the Japanese people and culture and their status as second-class unacknowledged citizens. Sometimes happy, often tragic, always fascinating, the author—from my limited knowledge of this history—does a tremendous job humanizing this period in time and the lives orbiting it.

Here comes the criticism . . .

The storyline is too ambitious for one volume. This book should have been either edited down or split into two or three volumes and fleshed out a bit more. I would have voted for editing it down.

Also, it's written in omniscient POV. This is terribly distracting. There is so much unnecessary exposition and individual backstory thrown in and then sometimes a significant event or subplot is tied off with a single phrase or sentence.

I have no idea how this became a National Book Award finalist other than as acknowledgment of the depth of research and breadth of storyline. BUT! I still recommend this book. Maybe a change of POV and two more editing passes and this book would have been elevated from very good to excellent. This year, I suspect I will be recommending this book to every reader I know. ( )
  ErrantRuminant | Jun 10, 2022 |
I learned a lot about Korea and being Korean in Japan. It was engaging. It made me feel very privileged! ( )
  kvoldstad | Jun 6, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, Min Jinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blum, GabrieleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hiroto, AllisonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kim, IntaeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lecq, Paul van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leger, PatrickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lenting, InekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, BrigidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest conjuration.
-Charles Dickens
Dedication
For Christopher and Sam
First words
History has failed us, but no matter.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. 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"--

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Book description
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.
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