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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
Cover of Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
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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...
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...
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  • 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).

    NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017 * A USA TODAY TOP TEN OF 2017 * JULY PICK FOR THE PBS NEWSHOUR-NEW YORK TIMES BOOK CLUB NOW READ THIS * FINALIST FOR THE 2018 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE* WINNER OF THE MEDICI BOOK CLUB PRIZE

    Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * #1 BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER * USA TODAY BESTSELLER * WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER * WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER


    "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*


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Awards-

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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 21, 2016
    Lee’s (Free Food for Millionaires) 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. In the Japanese-occupied Korea of the 1910s, young Sunja accidentally becomes pregnant, and a kind, tubercular pastor offers to marry her and act as the child’s father. Together, they move away from Busan and begin a new life in Japan. In Japan, Sunja and her Korean family suffer from seemingly endless discrimination, and yet they are also met with moments of great love and renewal. As Sunja’s children come of age, the novel reveals the complexities of family national history. What does it mean to live in someone else’s motherland? When is history a burden, and when does history lift a person up? This is a character-driven tale, but Lee also offers detailed histories that ground the story. Though the novel is long, the story itself is spare, at times brutally so. Sunja’s isolation and dislocation become palpable in Lee’s hands. Reckoning with one determined, wounded family’s place in history, Lee’s novel is an exquisite meditation on the generational nature of truly forging a home.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 15, 2016
    An absorbing saga of 20th-century Korean experience, seen through the fate of four generations.Lee (Free Food for Millionaires, 2007) built her debut novel around families of Korean-Americans living in New York. In her second novel, she traces the Korean diaspora back to the time of Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910. "History has failed us," she writes in the opening line of the current epic, "but no matter." She begins her tale in a village in Busan with an aging fisherman and his wife whose son is born with a cleft palate and a twisted foot. Nonetheless, he is matched with a fine wife, and the two of them run the boardinghouse he inherits from his parents. After many losses, the couple cherishes their smart, hardworking daughter, Sunja. When Sunja gets pregnant after a dalliance with a persistent, wealthy married man, one of their boarders--a sickly but handsome and deeply kind pastor--offers to marry her and take her away with him to Japan. There, she meets his brother and sister-in-law, a woman lovely in face and spirit, full of entrepreneurial ambition that she and Sunja will realize together as they support the family with kimchi and candy operations through war and hard times. Sunja's first son becomes a brilliant scholar; her second ends up making a fortune running parlors for pachinko, a pinball-like game played for money. Meanwhile, her first son's real father, the married rich guy, is never far from the scene, a source of both invaluable help and heartbreaking woe. As the destinies of Sunja's children and grandchildren unfold, love, luck, and talent combine with cruelty and random misfortune in a deeply compelling story, with the troubles of ethnic Koreans living in Japan never far from view. An old-fashioned epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2016
    Lee's debut, Free Food for Millionaires, was named one of the year's top ten novels by multiple venues. This second work, a big hit at both BEA and ALA, opens in early 1900s Korea with unwed Sunja rescued from the shame of her pregnancy by an offer of marriage that takes her to Japan. What follows is one family's seesawing fortunes over generations. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Included in The Millions' 32 Most Exciting Books Coming In 2017
  • The New York Times Book Review Stunning... Despite the compelling sweep of time and history, it is the characters and their tumultuous lives that propel the narrative... A compassionate, clear gaze at the chaotic landscape of life itself. In this haunting epic tale, no one story seems too minor to be briefly illuminated. Lee suggests that behind the facades of wildly different people lie countless private desires, hopes and miseries, if we have the patience and compassion to look and listen.
  • Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her In 1930s Korea, an earnest young woman, abandoned by the lover who has gotten her pregnant, enters into a marriage of convenience that will take her to a new life in Japan. Thus begins Lee's luminous new novel PACHINKO—a powerful meditation on what immigrants sacrifice to achieve a home in the world. PACHINKO confirms Lee's place among our finest novelists.
  • David Mitchell, Guardian, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century.
  • Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story Astounding. The sweep of Dickens and Tolstoy applied to a 20th century Korean family in Japan. Min Jin Lee's PACHINKO tackles all the stuff most good novels do-family, love, cabbage-but it also asks questions that have never been more timely. What does it mean to be part of a nation? And what can one do to escape its tight, painful, familiar bonds?
  • Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles Both for those who love Korea, as well as for those who know no more than Hyundai, Samsung and kimchi, this extraordinary book will prove a revelation of joy and heartbreak. I could not stop turning the pages, and wished this most poignant of sagas would never end. Min Jin Lee displays a tenderness and wisdom ideally matched to an unforgettable tale that she relates just perfectly.
  • Kate Christensen, Pen/Faulkner-winning author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special PACHINKO is elegant and soulful, both intimate and sweeping. This story of several generations of one Korean family in Japan is the story of every family whose parents sacrificed for their children, every family whose children were unable to recognize the cost, but it's also the story of a specific cultural struggle in a riveting time and place. Min Jin Lee has written a big, beautiful book filled with characters I rooted for and cared about and remembered after I'd read the final page.
  • Booklist (starred review) An exquisite, haunting epic...'moments of shimmering beauty and some glory, too,' illuminate the narrative...Lee's profound novel...is shaped by impeccable research, meticulous plotting, and empathic perception.
  • Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle-winning author of Half a Life: A Memoir PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee is a great book, a passionate story, a novel of magisterial sweep. It's also fiendishly readable-the real-deal. An instant classic, a quick page-turner, and probably the best book of the year.
  • Kirkus (Starred Review) An absorbing saga of 20th-century Korean experience... the destinies of Sunja's children and grandchildren unfold, love, luck, and talent combine with cruelty and random misfortune in a deeply compelling story, with the trouble of ethnic Koreans living in Japan never far from view. An old-fashioned epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth.
  • Publishers Weekly A sprawling and immersive historical work... Reckoning with one determined, wounded family's place in history, Lee's novel is an exquisite meditation on the generational nature of truly forging a home.
  • Erica Wagner, author of Ariel's Gift and Seizure If proof were needed that one family's story can be the story of the whole world, then PACHINKO offers that proof. Min Jin Lee's novel is gripping from start to finish, crossing cultures and generations with breathtaking power. PACHINKO is a stunning achievement, full of...

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