Book Club Kit - 2017 ; 2017 | Book club edition
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"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2017 ; Chesterfield, VA. : Assembled and distributed by Chesterfield County Public Library, 2017
Edition: Book club edition
ISBN: 9781455563920
Branch Call Number: F LEE-M
Characteristics: 15 books (527 pages ; 21 cm) + 1 binder, in bin (27 x 42 x 28 cm.)


From Library Staff

Lee's skillful development of her characters and story lines will draw readers into a delicate and accurate portrait of Korean life in Japan in the mid-to-late 20th century.

From the critics

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Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Feb 28, 2019

This almost reminded me of a Victorian novel, in the sense of its ambitious scope (the better part of the 20th century) and its focus on a wide cast of characters (four generations of the same family). The characters are the real joy of this book -- they are developed so thoughtfully and with such nuance that they feel like real people you know, though the leaps forward in time (often by several years) to different points in their lives can occasionally feel frustrating, since you feel like you're missing out on moments with people you've come to care for. The central theme of this novel is that life, like the titular game, is full of wins and losses -- more of the latter than the former, but you continue on hoping to be one of the lucky ones. This makes for a read that is occasionally depressing -- the fate of one character in particular was a bit of a gut punch -- but completely engrossing.

Feb 08, 2019

This was a wonderful story, told over generations. I highly recommend it.

Feb 02, 2019

Fascinating story of Koreans trying to live and succeed in Japan, where they are never fully accepted and face rampant discrimination. The theme of assimilating in a land where all anyone see is your 'otherness,' permeates this novel. And different characters try different approaches to cope in their new land, with some trying to be the perfect immigrant, others throwing themselves into fulfilling the worst stereotypes assigned to them. It's a very timely book for any person of color living in America these days.

Jan 28, 2019

A perfect read for anyone who likes historical fiction, multi-generational family sagas or cultural stories with exotic settings.

Dec 30, 2018


Dec 25, 2018

Ultimately disappointing. The book has no real ending, it's as if the author decided she no longer had interest in the story. There are too many coincidences, the characters are two-dimensional and by the story's end, there are too many characters, the story becomes disjointed and I'm at a loss to understand why the author wrote this book - what message was she trying to convey other than Koreans were treated badly by the Japanese but it all worked out in the end ??

Nov 30, 2018

2 1/2 stars. At the beginning I was intrigued by the main character and her mother. Then the book veered off into to-good-to-be-true coincidences and cardboard characters. Undoubtedly the Korean people who spent WW2 in Japan suffered greatly but the writing was too wooden to make the reader truly appreciate this. After oh-so-many coincidences, the characters got quite boring and I no longer cared how it ended - I started skipping paragraphs, then pages, then just put it aside about 65 pages from the end. I had expected a lot more from this book and author, given the good reviews.

Nov 29, 2018

I cannot believe how disappointed I was by this book!!! Having lived in Southeast Asia and traveled throughout the region, I normally seek out and respect Asian authors. In addition the story of this family covers two of the most significant events of the 20th century in Japan and Korea. The story begins in Korea with a girl in trouble - classic beginning of hundreds of novels. A kind Christian man marries the girl and they end up moving to Japan. It is common knowledge that the Japanese culture of the 20th century treated Koreans with less than respect. The family ekes out a living, gradually becoming more successful. The husband is thrown in prison for not properly respecting Japanese tradition. The family is living in Japan during World War II. Does this not deserve some observations other than that the Japanese were put in detention camps in the U.S. and yes by the way an uncle moves to Nagasaki. He escapes the bomb, but is burned. World War II gets a couple of pages. What about the opportunity to discuss the comfort women of Korea who were kidnapped by the Japanese to be sexual slaves to the military. They are still trying to get justice. I guess they were not important compared to pachinko. Then we have the Korean War which is barely mentioned. What is mentioned is a lot of sex and abortions and how to set the pachinko games so that there are not many winners. There is even voyeurism because a woman is not getting enough sex at home. Never mind that the family is being funded by a member of the Yakuza Japanese crime syndicate. Really is this what is important for readers to know about Korean culture and history? The book begins with the sentence: History has failed us, but no matter. Actually the author has failed history and its profound effect upon Koreans in the 20th century. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Sep 22, 2018

Pachinko is an excellent read, it has such humility, honesty, and an unfiltered look at the non-romantic version of poverty and immigration. It touches on suicide, illness, and immense family and societal pressure especially in a home that is only made by family and not by nationality. Great read, but I especially recommend this for all children of immigrants, it has a lot of truth and lots of lessons to learn.

Sep 11, 2018

A saga, delivered in a less consistent narrative style, felt heavier than it's substantiated. Collage of ordinary characters with extraordinary characteristics float by in the river of history, their fate is watched over by God and as if played by Pachinko.
It's a shame that I only learned about my island kins in such a pronounced way until now.
I may not be more than impressed by the major female figures - the paragon of traditional values, but Noa is the core, and through him I feel author's near finesse.
"Sunja's tryst with Hansu" is beautifully rendered, while "Sex in the park", with its elaboration to appeal to contemporary readers (perhaps?), is such a smear to mess up the book.
Isak's short life has the most tear-jerking ending, other deaths (major and minor) are lightly touched without reduced tragic effect - a master stroke.

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Aug 23, 2017

Sexual Content: explicit sexual content


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