Nominated by:

Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, Norway

Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego w Łodzi, Poland

New Hampshire State Library, Concord, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Apollo, UK,

Grand Central Publishing, USA

Pachinko

Min Jin Lee    

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, 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 Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story.

Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.

About the author

Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author and journalist. Born in Seoul, her family moved to America when she was seven. She worked as a lawyer before deciding to write full time. For more information, visit minjinlee.com.

Librarians’ comments:

In this long novel covering 70 odd years and the lives of four generations of a Korean family in Japan, 1910 – 1969, Pachinko gives us an insight into the conditions and discrimination ezperienced by Korean refugees in Japan. We enter into the daily lives of the characters, their beliefs, aims, habits, relationships and developments, from subsistence farming to affluence and modernity. The role of women is important. The language is simple and direct, in perfect keeping with the subject matter.

Pachinko is not only a book about the Koreans in Japan. It is a story universal in its message – story about an immigrants life, lack of affiliation and about building one’s life wisdom. It’s a novel that depicts the role of women in the traditional society, the strength of tradition and religion in the Asian culture. It’s a novel about the merciless fate that – just like in a popular game, allows only few to win, while the rest is doomed to lose. Life is Pachinko and human beings with their dreams, needs and aspiration are like an inert ball, moving on the surface of the arcade game.

Pachinko is an epic story that explores the lives of generations of Koreans who emigrate to Japan during the early part of the 20th century. The book addresses universal themes of family, duty and identity.

An intergenerational and epic saga told from different perspectives illuminates the plight of immigrants and shreds the rigid notion of families.

Related Entries