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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 494 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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An Amazon Best Book of February 2017: Beginning in 1910 during the time of Japanese colonialization and ending many decades later in 1989, Pachinko is the epic saga of a Korean family told over four generations. The family’s story starts with Hoonie, a young Korean man born with physical deformities, but whose destiny comes from his inner strength and kindness. Hoonie’s daughter, rather than bring shame on her family, leaves their homeland for Japan, where her children and grandchildren will be born and raised; yet prejudice against their Korean heritage will prevent them from ever feeling at home. In Pachinko, Min Jin Lee says much about success and suffering, prejudice and tradition, but the novel never bogs down and only becomes richer, like a sauce left simmering hour after hour. Lee’s exceptional story of one family is the story of many of the world’s people. They ask only for the chance to belong somewhere—and to be judged by their hearts and actions rather than by ideas of blood traits and bad seeds. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Min Jin Lee is a writer whose 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, 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.
Allison Hiroto is a voice talent and audiobook narrator.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File size : 1605 KB
- Publication date : February 7, 2017
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 494 pages
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (February 7, 2017)
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B01GZY28JA
- Lending : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,122 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I have found that it is easier to explain why I don’t like a particular book or to point out a book’s flaws than it is to explain why I absolutely loved one. It’s like explaining why a rainbow is beautiful. I can talk about how the colors are pretty or how it made me feel, but there is something about rainbows, sunsets, and the best works of art that transcends easy explanation. You just have to experience them. Read Pachinko.
The format of the book is straightforward. It proceeds chronologically from about 1900-ish to 1989 and follows various characters that belong to one family. It never sprawls out of control – there aren’t 37 second-cousins that you will have to keep track of – and there aren’t flash-backs and flash-forwards that could potentially cause confusion. There are occasional Japanese or Korean words sprinkled around, but their meaning is apparent from the context. I don’t speak a lick of those languages, and I followed everything without ever having to consult a dictionary. The prose is simple and straightforward, generally consisting of short, direct sentences. There’s not a lot of fluff. Therefore, the book reads quickly, despite being an almost 500 page family saga about sexism, fate, hard work, destiny, chance, war, poverty, racism, familial obligations, identity, immigration, citizenship, language, education, opportunity, community, and faith.
The main characters are diverse, interesting, flawed, and generally fundamentally good people. The characters are not very Dynamic (at least in an obvious way), but they weren’t really intended to be. This isn’t a story populated with characters that have grand, clear character arcs. This made them feel more realistic to me. How many people do you know that are on a Hero’s Journey? Most people I know just try to keep their heads down, work to put food on the table, and hope for good opportunities for their children.
I’ve said before that I am a fan of history, and I was generally ignorant of Korean culture in Japan. Pachinko is not some dry history lesson, though. It’s as entertaining as a soap opera.
You should read it.
The style, as others have noted, is simple and spare. Sometimes that works well, and there are sections that truly resonated, where I stopped in admiration of a well-crafted sentence or metaphor. But just as frequently, I found sections that were awkward and definitely seemed to be written by someone for whom English was a second language. The sweep of the novel, while impressive, had similar inconsistencies. In some parts, we moved from month to month or year to year and then suddenly jumped several years. This added to the sense we were following an outline rather than a fleshed-out novel. Given Japan's role in the war, for example, it was strange how little of that came through. Even the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seemed like a footnote; there was virtually nothing about the level of devastation, despite Yoseb's being caught in the Nagasaki bombing and badly burnt and wounded. And by the time we got to the 1990s, it felt as though Lee were racing to finish, sending characters off to die or disappear, with one of the most abrupt endings I've ever read.
Top reviews from other countries
I am so pleased I bought this book. It was enthralling - took me less than two days to read. I began by thinking it was going to be a family saga type book (which I normally avoid like the plague) but it was anything but.
I found myself become deeply involved with the characters and wanting to know how they got on, how their various decisions affected their lives. I was actually pleased it is a standalone book as it meant more than the first in a series.
I'd no idea what pachinko was (or, indeed, is) and I vaguely (and incorrectly) thought it would have something to do with food or clothing.
I hadn't realised how the Koreans were treated by the Japanese and had no idea of what they had to undergo in their day to day lives in either Korea or Japan. This book was an education.
I understood from the interview that this book took a very long time to write and that it was impeccably researched, so thought it deserved reading. There are a considerable number of characters with Korean and Japanese names and lots of words that need looking up in order to get their full meaning. I didn't even know what 'Pachinko' was and if you don't know you won't find out until about half way through the book - unless you look it up first. These are not criticisms, but I do feel that this book needs a fairly academic approach to get the most out of it. It is not an easy read. Following the lives and 'fortunes' of a Korean family who 'escape' to Japan in order to avoid starvation, it is a story of persecution and prejudice on many levels. If you like a feel-good story this is not for you, but if you can take a big dose of reality and admire the qualities of human spirit and tenacity in adversity then you will find this book both informative and deeply moving.