Pachinko — part family saga, part historical epic — starts with a perfect line: “History has failed us, but no matter.” Min Jin Lee’s masterpiece unspools to cover nearly 80 years of the 20th century, following a Korean family from their occupied fishing village to uneasily inhabiting multiple Japanese cities, and the choices and circumstances of history that redirect their lives. It's a novel of astonishing depth, thanks to skillful writing that highlights the dreams, motivations, and disappointments of even minor characters. Pachinko is both quietly devastating and intensely nourishing, and will absolutely change your life. Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
Following four generations of a family from WWII to 1989, Pachinko examines themes of war, identity, prejudice, poverty, shame, and family. Set against the bombing of Nagasaki and the Korean War, but focusing on the unrelenting prejudice born from that period, Lee's story asks the question: What is home? Competently done, the saga of Sunja, her parents, her children, her grandchildren, and the man who helps her throughout her entire life, Pachinko is full of both pain and joy. Don't miss it. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Lee’s latest novel is a sprawling and immersive historical work that tells the tale of one Korean family’s search for belonging exploring questions of history legacy and identity across four generations....Lee’s novel is an exquisite meditation on the generational nature of truly forging a home." Publishers Weekly
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 Condé 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.