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Absorbing and thought-provoking, PACHINKO will remain in your memory for years to come.


SUMMARY Pachinko is an addicting Japanese vertical arcade game, a cross between pinball and a slot machine. It’s a game of chance and the house odds are high. There are only a few winners, but lots of losers.

PACHINKO, the book, follows one Korean family though four generations between 1910 to 1989. The game of pachinko plays a vital role in the family’s future is a apt metaphor for the the family’s fate. The family’s beginnings were based on a random chance. As Korea falls under Japanese control, a young Korean man in Busan with a club foot and cleft palette named Hoonie, marries a young local girl, Yangjin. It is an arranged marriage. The couple has a daughter Sunja who grows up content in the small boarding house that her parents operate on a small coastal island. When an innocent Sunja become pregnant she is stunned to find out that the father of her baby is already married. He offers to support her and her family, but she refuses to see him again. Just as her pregnancy threatens to ruin her family she is rescued. A boarder, a sickly minister with tuberculosis, on his way to Osaka, Japan kindly offers to marry her.

This emotional multigenerational epic novel continues in Japan with Sunja’s sons Noa and Mozasu who walk divergent paths trying to find their way in a foreign land, a land where Koreans are not welcome.

REVIEW A deeply compelling novel that weaves a family saga of resilience with the shocking history of the treatment of ethnic Koreans in Japan. The cast of characters is large and well developed, but most noticeable is Sunja, and the other hard working women in the family. It is these women who keep the family alive during some of the most difficult times of history. Whether it was operating a boarding house, or selling kimchi in the market, or working on a farm, the women find a way to survive the innumerable hardships placed in their path.

The well-woven story is poignant and thoughtful. The writing is absorbing, and the book is a peaceful, eloquent read. While swift pacing and sudden shifts may have you perplexed at the most heartbreaking of times, this book beats the odds. MIN JIN LEE’s immense research for this award winning book is evident and admirable. I listened to the Audible version of the book and found the narration excellent, adding tremendously to the reading experience. Narrated by Allison Hiroto. Book Published February 7, 2017.

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