Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)Min Jin Lee

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)

4.5 star

Total 2,782 Ratings

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee Book Summary

A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year and National Book Award finalist, Pachinko is an "extraordinary epic" of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan (San Francisco Chronicle).


Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post


"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.

*Includes reading group guide*

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) (Min Jin Lee) Book Reviews

PachinkoEngrossing, beautiful written saga of a complex and compelling family..Score: 5/5

Fantastic read!Great praise for Min Jin in her translation of history into such a wonderful story - the writing is vivid with well written imagery that takes the reader through the journeys of each character from 1910 to 1989. Wow. With each chapter, you feel the challenges, suffering but also the love, gratefulness and family strength in perseverance. I'm looking forward to reading Free Food and hope to see more published works!.Score: 5/5

Good start but...Really enjoyed the start to this, but then it became really tedious snd drawn out..Score: 2/5

PachinkoBeautiful writing and rich character development..Score: 5/5

UnderwhelmingMaybe if I had not read “The Girl with Seven Names” first I would like this book more. The ending had no real closure to the saga and it could have easily been told in 100 pages less. Also, always disappointed when authors have to weave in explicit sex scenes. If the story line is strong, it can be carried without this..Score: 3/5

StunningI can’t believe I’m just reading this treasure. The writing is excellent and the characters stay with you long after the book is over. I love historical fiction and this did not disappoint..Score: 5/5

WOW!!!Could not stop reading even after 11:30. Character development. Smells of their foods and feeling everyone's, hurts and successes ,living their lives ,oh the challenges of life in not your own country. Learned a lot,am now more kind and sympathetic to different people..Score: 5/5

Great ReadThis book takes you through the trials and tribulations of life. Very interesting..Score: 5/5

Excellent storyI enjoyed reading almost every minute of this story. Being in Japan while reading it somehow made the plot more meaningful. There were a few times that I was annoyed by the prose, and while that’s probably true of all books, for some reason (maybe grumpy old age) I took one star off for that. Even so, I highly recommend it!.Score: 4/5

Absolute Dog TrashThe main character is so unlikeable. Throughout the whole novel, everyone solves everything for her. I don’t recommend it..Score: 1/5

Powerful and engrossing!Captivating characters whose lives are told with beauty and tenderness. This book also filled a wide, gaping void in my knowledge of Korea-Japan relations. Supremely satisfying on every level.Score: 5/5

DelightfulBeautifully written. So simple yet so rich. I loved it..Score: 5/5

Beautiful bookLoved reading this book. Loved Sunja..Score: 5/5

WONDERFULGot this book and put it aside....then picked it up and now I cannot put it down!!!! Wonderful story.....don't pass this one up because you'll be sorry!!.Score: 5/5

Phenomenal!Just from the opening line I could tell this book would be brilliant - “history has failed us, but no matter.” “Panchinko” is a novel filled with delicate insight into womanhood, racism, religion, and the meaning of home. Told primarily from the perspective of Sunja and her descendants, the changing narratives allows for each of these concepts to be explored in depth whilst maintaining a sense of gentleness. If you do not have a great deal of understanding of 20th century Korean and Japanese history/relations, this book provides and illustration of Korean experiences as immigrants facing hardship and prejudice. An excellent read to understand the ordeal that many Koreans experienced yet is often under examined and under appreciated..Score: 5/5

Very goodGood story, good writing, good character development. Interesting to learn about the Korean/Japanese experience. I recommend this book. It was such a pleasure to read..Score: 5/5

All time favoritesThis book blew me away. It is one of my all time favorites and after this I read Free Food for Millionaires which was also fantastic but Pachinko… just…. grabbed my heart and still hasn’t let go. Please. Read. This..Score: 5/5

PachinkoThis book has renewed my faith in good stories. Eye opening, heart breaking, and good writing makes this novel impossible to put down. I learned a lot about history and life. Thank you for you talent!.Score: 5/5

Loved this bookLoved this book…..Score: 5/5

When no place is home.This is a novel about a great many things but the strongest thread is about the search for a shared humanity and the crushing struggle to escape poverty. Min Jin Lee also covers what it means to be loved and have value in one place or another. There is also the wrestling match between the blissful ignorance of youthful optimism and where it collides with the seasoned incredulity and cynicism of experience. The competing perspectives at the same time highlight the common desires for love, belonging, and purpose, and pride. Pride is a looming presence; it kills and it leads to unnecessary suffering. Min Jin Lee’s storytelling techniques are amazing and give the book added depth and intrigue. The sprawling narrative takes you through generations of events and time in a way that you forget to notice the leaps forward and never want it to end. There are crushing moments and then truly beautiful ones that come together to create a whirling emotional roller coaster. I was reminded of “Grave of the Fireflies” in certain parts. My mouth gaping in shock at a sudden turn of events, in others tears brimming on the edge, and still with room left for laughter and joy elsewhere. This book is gripping and powerful in the same way that a Marquez novel is. The type of story that leaves a permanent imprint on you. Every page oozing with the perfect balance of drama and life. What makes it even more relevant is the issue of racial prejudice that mirrors America’s own zealous bigotry and something I was not fully aware of within the Asian community. There were moments were I thought you could swap Black for Korean and the story would have echoed experiences in Jim Crow or present day America. This book is as complete as they come and a new entry into my all time favorites..Score: 5/5

Three quarters excellent, last quarter badI am fortunate to be married to a wonderful Korean woman with a story that mirrors Pachinko. So I understand the nature of the Korean mother and their devotion and sacrifice for their family. This book was on point for the first three fourths, then it fell apart. The focus on debauchery and gratuitous sex of a younger generation was both suspect and a turn off. I clearly understand that the descendants of the Pachinko generation were conflicted and confused, but those that I know went to Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and became doctors, lawyers and financial tycoons and did not become alcoholics, drugs users, or prostitutes as depicted in the final chapters of this book. Perhaps this was autobiographical on the part of the author, but it does not represent the younger Korean generation that I know. Because of this I struggled to finish the book and still have an uncomfortable feeling about the last parts, because I don’t believe it represents reality..Score: 4/5

Very interestingGood read!.Score: 5/5

ExceptionalFrom the moment I started reading it up until the very end, I was marveled by this story. I’ve cried and laughed along with it. I simply could not put this book down. Beautiful!.Score: 5/5

Pretty GoodPretty good book Only giving four stars because there were times when the book was overly drawn out like with Haruki and Ayame what did that have to do with anything was it about the sex in the woods was it about being gay. What did that have to do with anything ??? Over all really good book I Loved Sunja and cried when she cried it was a beautiful book however I was secretly rooting for ko Hansu.Score: 4/5

PachinkoExcellent book- almost an historical novel, where you learn the history of the time and place and enjoy a well written story..Score: 5/5

The people effected by the pre WWII AsiaI had read about the “dislike”the Koreans &Japanese had for each other over the centuries. In history books but history books unless specific to a country or timeline tend not to bring daily life into the chapter. I have Korean &Japanese friends who were born after WWII thought friendly you could feel some unidentifiable tension that I could not identify.After reading this book I got. feeling for what it may have meant to be a minority in a country that has spent years of fighting each other..Score: 3/5

A good readI found this book to be thought provoking and emotionally stirring. It touches on many social and personal issues that are relevant today, including racism, nationalism, identity, self-worth, and the ties of family. These issues are the water in which this multigenerational family swims. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse into a culture I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to observe—enlightening. I learned a lot while being entertained and I enjoyed the writing style and characters immensely. I will definitely recommend Pachinko..Score: 5/5

LongThis long and depressing novel has some cultural fascinations, but its world view is so antithetical to mine that I thought it would velvet end..Score: 3/5

More than I could have ever expectedWhat an accomplishment. I am more educated about Korea and Japan than I ever was in school after reading this novel, but it didn’t feel like a history lesson. It felt raw and real and you see the fishing village, feel the starched shirts Sunja wore and my face even felt the flame of shame that is so ingrained in their cultures. I read some reviews that didn’t like the swift change of point of view, but that is what makes this book so amazing. Enjoy the story! I understand WWII and even issues I didn’t were issues in the 80s and 90s more than ever before through characters that expanded my perspective on history. Beautifully written!.Score: 5/5

Must readHighly recommend. Couldn’t put it down. Beautiful novel..Score: 5/5

PachinkoVery disappointed and feel mislead. This was not the full book. Rather it was only 46 pages of a teaser..Score: 1/5

IntrospectiveMulti-generational tapestry of Korean immigrants in Japan that spoke directly at my heart as an immigrant myself. The struggles and triumphs of uncharted life are beautifully illustrated in times of war and hope. This novel is a living history book about family, love and despair that will keep you hooked from beginning to the end. Based on author’s extensive research and creativity, the novel comes to life with relatable characters and familiar surroundings that makes you wonder how the life is for these immigrants in the land of privacy and order called Japan..Score: 5/5

Often underwhelming.Though it invokes discussion and utilizes moving imagery, on multiple occasions while reading it I found myself just waiting for the end. Then once the end came, it was unsatisfying in tying up the multiple story plots that were brought into play. Overall, would not likely recommend to a friend..Score: 3/5

[Korean] Just amazing코로나 격리 기간 정서적으로 나에게 가장 큰 영향을 주고 있는 이민진 작가. 그녀가 살아온 삶의 궤적과 파친코라는 책을 집필하게된 동기 및 과정을 알면 알 수록 그녀가 더 크게 느껴진다.
 굴곡진 삶 속에서 전개되는 주인공들의 극적인 관계 및 갈등 그리고 내면세계 등이 책에서 더 깊고 자세하게 묘사되기 때문에, 그 감동이 TV 드라마와는 비교가 되지 않을 만큼 크다. (한가지 아쉬운 점이 책에서 한수의 비중이 캐릭터의 무게감이나 매력도에 비해 적다는 것인데, 이는 드라마 제작시에 다행히 고려가 된 것 같다.) 주인공 '선자'가 남편인 아이삭 목사의 무덤을 찾아가 자신의 삶을 반추하는 장면으로 소설은 마무리가 된다. 분명히 절제된 감정을 가진 강인한 그녀보다 대부분의 독자가 더 많은 눈물을 흘렸을 것이다. 대한민국 사람이라면 꼭 읽어야할 필독서라는 생각이 든다. 특히 나와 같은 재외국민들은 자신들이 살아온 삶의 역사에 대해 한번 잘 생각해보고 읽으면 더 큰 가치를 느낄 수 있을 것 같다..Score: 5/5

PachinkoBreathtaking Heartbreaking Eye opening.Score: 5/5

Best book I’ve ever read.Amazing plot and characters. Intriguing story. I read a lot of books and this is now my favorite. Will definitely read again and will read more from this author. This book made me sad. I can honestly say that I love this book. Would recommend to everyone. Read it, you won’t regret it..Score: 5/5

AstonishingPachinko is a wonderful book about what it means to be an immigrant and looked down upon for that alone. It is filled with vibrant, complex, flawed, noble characters. As a reader, I felt enthralled and deeply moved. As a writer, I feel humbled..Score: 5/5

Mesmerizing, I couldn’t put it downThis is an amazing book! I can see why it was a National Book award finalist. The characters are so richly developed by the author that I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn’t reading the book. The pages flew by as each character’s story unfolded. My only regret is that I’m sorry to have finished it so quickly..Score: 5/5

EngagingReading the interview with the author at the end helped put some pieces together for me. Troubling, however, was the mention of Christianity without any of the so called Christians struggling with their carnal lusts. I so wanted Noa to find gratitude for his upbringing and forgiveness for parents shortcomings. Learned lots of history I had been totally ignorant on before.Score: 5/5

A moving masterpieceI genuinely did not think I would love this book so much. Initially I read this book because I was intrigued by the Korean and Japanese aspects of the book and wanted to get a good story out of it. We follow four generations of a Korean family and their struggles, losses, experiences, and family connections through the entire novel. I loved every minute of this book and love the characters even more. Min Jin Lee really gave us a heartfelt story about family and identity and endurance. Everything I read was so well thought out and I sympathized with everything that was thrown at me. The circumstances of the characters and their responses to them were really what shaped the story. Sacrifice and love play huge roles in the book, and that is ultimately what makes it so special..Score: 5/5

Very disappointedI thought I liked this book at first but it went very downhill. I didn’t care about anyone, couldn’t keep characters straight, and didn’t like the story. I was recommended this book because I loved memoirs of a geisha and this was not even close.Score: 1/5

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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) Synopsis

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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
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