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
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
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.
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.