Pachinko

Pachinko is an expansive novel! It covers 79 years, 4 generations of a family, 3 countries, numerous major world events and countless family tragedies and triumphs. Through telling the saga of one Korean family, Min Jin Lee presents the history of Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula and the experience of Koreans living in Japan in the early 20th century.

A lot is crammed into one book, it’s actually quite impressive! Many BIG events or character deaths happen quickly, often in one sentence or even “off screen” and in the last 1/4 of the book new characters were being introduced and focused on. I found all this slightly jarring but it is the nature of a multi-generational narrative. Whereas I found Lee’s prose to be sparse and specific, nothing flowery or excessive is used, her characters are richly detailed especially the numerous strong women who define the book.

I’ll be honest that Pachinko covered a history of which I was woefully ignorant. I knew nothing of the hardships Koreans experienced living in Japan at this time. Especially that the discrimination was so long lasting, affecting the 2nd and 3rd generation Koreans born in Japan.

Pachinko is an excellent example of historical fiction, the perfect mix of concrete facts to inform the reader and a captivating personal narrative. With unforgettable characters and fascinating subject matter, Pachinko is a must read!


  • Title: Pachinko
  • Author: Min Jin Lee
  • Published: February 7, 2017 (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *

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