Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

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 all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity. –

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher via in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a little bit reluctant to write this review because I’m not sure that I can do this novel justice.

Pachinko is, as far as I can remember, the first multi-generational novel that I have read. It follows the lives of intertwining families and characters as they live before, during and beyond WWII.

Lee explores an under reported and lesser known history, that of Korea and Japan during the war. Ask anyone about it, and they will tell you all about Germany and America, but I have rarely heard mention of Japan and never of Korea and the effects on these countries.

Within this broad history, Lee focuses in on particular towns and families, each with their own dynamics, beliefs, desires and struggles.

The characters are incredibly real, the story perfectly developed and the transitions through the timeline are seamless.

I can imagine this becoming a staple read for schools, universities and the general reading population. It is incredibly relevant to today’s world events and I believe it always will be.


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