A father's gentle nature, a mother's sacrifice, a daughter's trust and a son's determination are the cornerstones of this grand multi-layered saga. Pachinko follows one family through an ever changing cultural landscape from 1910 Korea to 1989 Japan. As the bonds of family are put to the test in the harsh realities of their world, Sunja and those she holds dear manage to carve themselves a place to call home with hard work, self-sacrifice and a little kimchi. Through it all is a message about love, faith, and the deep rooted bonds of family. Min Jin Lee gives us a phenomenal story about one family's struggle that resonates to us today. It will take hold of you and not let go!— Jen Steele
This epic novel about a Korean family in Japan, attempting to rise up from their meager beginnings, plunged me into a world I knew little about. Starting with a poor family with a son born with a cleft palate and twisted foot, the family’s generations eventually find success but always at a cost. In a way, they’re trapped, seeing their adopted land as their home but never being able to rise above second class citizens. The author of Free Food for Millionaires shines in creating vibrant characters, with some story arcs, like that of a policeman’s wife who acts as beard and caretaker to his brother, functioning like short stories, and others, like the mysterious and morally inscrutable benefactor Hansu, influencing across generations. While some of the reversals can seem a little melodramatic, Pachinko is soap opera taken to lofty levels, functioning both as a philosophical treatise on love, identity, fate, and morality and a compelling page turner.— Daniel Goldin
The Women's Speaker Series presents Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko and Free Food for Millionaires, Thursday, September 28, 7 pm, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd in River Hills. Tickets are $31, $26 for Lynden members. Note that you must buy a ticket (available here) to attend this event.— Boswell Book Company
February 2017 Indie Next List
“A father's gentle nature, a mother's sacrifice, a daughter's trust, and a son's determination are the cornerstones of this grand, multilayered saga. Pachinko follows one family through an ever-changing cultural landscape, from 1910 Korea to 1989 Japan. As the bonds of family are put to the test in the harsh realities of their world, Sunja and those she holds dear manage to carve themselves a place to call home with hard work, self sacrifice, and a little kimchi. Through it all is a message about love, faith, and the deep-rooted bonds of family. Min Jin Lee gives us a phenomenal story about one family's struggle that resonates with us today. It will take hold of you and not let go!”
— Jennifer Steele (E), Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post
In this bestselling, page-turning saga, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew. "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." 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. Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters-strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis-survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.
About the Author
Min Jin Lee's debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was one of the "Top 10 Novels of the Year" for The Times (London), NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today. Her short fiction has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts. Her writings have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, The Times (London), Vogue, Travel+Leisure, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, and Food & Wine. Her essays and literary criticism have been anthologized widely. She served as a columnist for the Chosun Ilbo, the leading paper of South Korea. She lives in New York with her family.