Pachinko

Paperback, 512 pages

English language

Published Feb. 13, 2017 by Grand Central Publishing.

ISBN:
978-1-4555-6392-0
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4 stars (58 reviews)

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters — strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis — survive …

2 editions

Better than the TV series

5 stars

I read Pachinko after watching the first episode of the TV show and couldn't get into it, thought I'd try the book and see if I liked it better. And it is much better. The TV series has its charms: lush visuals, excellent acting including from some of my favorite kdrama actors, but in the adaptation they lost how the book is a winding multi-generational story anchored by the women and one woman in particular, Sunja. An oft-uttered phrase in the book, something like "It's a woman's lot to suffer" conveys this theme, but the TV show first of all time hops episodes back and forth, and this is one reason why, introduces extra stories that weren't in the book, almost entirely about the male characters who were not as central in the book. It's as if they got studio notes - "can we have more stories about the men?" …

Review of 'Pachinko' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Not my fave genre but I was curious about this one for a while, plus a tv show is coming soon^

As expected of a family saga spanning over 70 years, it was full of events but I found myself losing focus in the end because I wanted to follow less characters and feel more connected to them. Of course I still was emo in a few scenes, and was attached to the family, they went through so much, war, poverty, racism, sexism, the book talked about many subjects and I learned a lot about this period of history

Review of 'Pachinko' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Rounding up a bit on this rating. One of those books that's hard for me to have opinions on since I'm shamefully ignorant about most of the history, politics, and culture it covers. Definitely feels like the US was given far too kind treatment. Hard for me to know what points of view are missing. But interesting and does a great job covering the absurdity of most countries in the world not having birthright citizenship and also ingroup/outgroup dynamics and social controls. I had a tough time liking the women characters and dealing with the christian idealization. Maybe a bit conservative for me generally.

Review of 'Pachinko' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

More than half-way through, I decided to re-shelve this one. I just don't care about the characters enough to keep choking through it. It's ambitious - it starts back in the early 20th century and runs up through the present day, showing one Korean family with some tricky ties. Maybe I'll finish it at some point, but there are other books that are more compelling to read. I'll start with them instead.

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