A victorian epic transplanted to Japan, following a Korean family of immigrants through eight decades and four generations. Yeongdo, Korea 1911. A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.
Long-listed for National Book Award 2017.
'A sweeping, engrossing family saga ... a poignantly told tale. Gracefully written and dotted with memorable images, evocative of the pace and time, it's a page-turning panorama of one family's path through suffering to prosperity in 20th-century Japan' Literary Review. 'A rich, moving novel about exile, identity and the determination to endure' Sunday Times. 'Min Jin Lee has the confidence to leave gaps of years in her tale, to tell it in vignettes ... Keeps you wanting to know what happens next ... It's an enjoyable tale in its own right. But I can't help thinking it might just be a bit more important than that' The Bookbag. 'An exquisite, haunting epic ... Lee's profound novel of losses and gains explored through the social and cultural implications of pachinko-parlor owners and users is shaped by impeccable research, meticulous plotting, and empathic perception' Booklist Starred Review. '[A] beautifully crafted story of love, loss determination, luck, and perseverance ... Lee's skilful development of her characters and story lines will draw readers into the work. Those who enjoy historical fiction with strong characterisations will not be disappointed as they ride along on the emotional journeys offered in the author's latest page-turner' Library Journal. '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' Kirkus. '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' New York Times Book Review. '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, author of Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles. '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, award-winning author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special. 'Remarkable ... A striking introduction to lives, to a world, [the reader] may never have seen, or even thought to look at. In our increasingly fractured and divisive times, there can be no higher purpose for literature: all in the pages of a book that, once you've started, you'll simply be unable to put down' Harper's Bazaar. 'The sweep of Dickens and Tolstoy applied to a twentieth-century Korean family in Japan' Gary Shteyngart. '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, New York Times-bestselling author of Chang and Eng. 'An epic, multi-generational saga' Mail on Sunday, Best of 2017. 'We never feel history being spoon-fed to us: it is wholly absorbed into character and story, which is no mean feat for a novel covering almost a century of history' Financial Times. 'A saga set in 1930s Korea and then Japan, detailing the struggles of one family's poverty, discrimination, and shame in the wake of a daughter's pregnancy and subsequent abandonment by her lover. Winning early praise from Junot Diaz and David Mitchell, it looks like Pachinko could be headed for the bestseller lists as well' Elle Magazine. 'Gripping ... a stunning achievement, full of heart, full of grace, full of truth' Erica Wagner. 'A long novel, but it never feels it - Min Jin Lee's storytelling is effortless' Stylist, Pick of the best new books for 2017. 'Luminous ... a powerful meditation on what immigrants sacrifice to achieve a home in the world' Junot Diaz. 'A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century' David Mitchell, Guardian. 'Stunning ... Pachinko is about outsiders, minorities and the politically disenfranchised. But it is so much more besides. Each time the novel seems to find its locus - Japan's colonization of Korea, World War II as experienced in East Asia, Christianity, family, love, the changing role of women - it becomes something else. It becomes even more than it was' New York Times.
Min Jin Lee is an author and journalist. Her debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was named as one of the 'Top 10 Novels of the Year' by The Times and USA Today. She wrote Pachinko whilst living in Tokyo, and now lives in New York with her family.