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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) Paperback – November 14, 2017
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"Regretting You" by Colleen Hoover
From New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters. | Learn more
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Included in The Millions' "Most Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Preview"
One of Elle's "25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017"
BBC: "Ten Books to Read in 2017"
One of BookRiot's "Most Anticipated Books of 2017"
One of Nylon's "50 Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2017"
One of Entertainment Weekly's Best New Books
One of BookBub's 22 Most Anticipated Book Club Reads of 2017
"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."―The New York Times Book Review
"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."―Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her
"A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century."―David Mitchell, Guardian, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks
"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?"―Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story
"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."―Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles
"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."―Kate Christensen, Pen/Faulkner-winning author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special
"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."―Booklist (starred review)
"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."
―Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Half a Life: A Memoir
"The breadth and depth of challenges come through clearly, without sensationalization. The sporadic victories are oases of sweetness, without being saccharine. Lee makes it impossible not to develop tender feelings towards her characters--all of them, even the most morally compromised. Their multifaceted engagements with identity, family, vocation, racism, and class are guaranteed to provide your most affecting sobfest of the year."―BookRiot, "Most Anticipated Books of 2017"
About the Author
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781455563920
- ISBN-13 : 978-1455563920
- Product Dimensions : 5.38 x 1.5 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Reprint Edition (November 14, 2017)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1455563927
- Best Sellers Rank: #788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- 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.
Everything starts well by engaging the sympathies of the reader. The scene is set concisely, giving the images of life in the small town without too much of the historical background.
Gradually the plot evolves throughout the rest of the book, showing the characters moving through their lives, struggling with their individual interpretations of identity. There is plenty of cultural information that is fascinating, in particular the complicated relationship between Korea and Japan. leading into the implications to the family of the Korean divide. World events move at a great pace but, in this story, we see the impact on the people.
The flow of the novel is variable though. I found the start quite slow and it took me some time to get into the swing of reading, finding many excuses to put it down. I was much more engaged in the middle section but then it slowed again towards the end where there was one too many characters introduced.
Generations merge and there are no clear switched from one to the next which had a very natural feel about it.
Finally the end of the book approached and it was thoughtful, revisiting emotions stirred earlier in the story along with tying up many loose ends.