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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) – by Min Jin Lee

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee, a National Book Award Finalist. This poignant and beautifully written novel takes you on a journey through the generations of a Korean immigrant family in 20th-century Japan. From forbidden love and sacrifice to ambition and loyalty, “Pachinko” explores the complexities of life and the resilience of the human spirit. Experience the struggles and triumphs of unforgettable characters as they navigate a world marked by adversity and hope. With its rich storytelling and powerful themes, “Pachinko” is a must-read for anyone seeking a compelling and deeply moving tale.

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) – by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko, a novel by Min Jin Lee, has captivated readers around the world with its powerful storytelling and vivid characters. Published in January 2018, this book has been hailed as a National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times Bestseller. In this article, we will explore the synopsis, background, setting, characters, plot summary, themes, writing style, critical reception, and conclusion of this remarkable book.

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) - by Min Jin Lee

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Pachinko takes readers on a journey through four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family in 20th-century Japan. The story begins in the early 1900s with Sunja, an adored daughter of a crippled fisherman. When Sunja falls for a wealthy stranger who promises her the world, she discovers she is pregnant and that her lover is married. Refusing to be bought, she instead accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle minister passing through. This decision sets off a dramatic saga that unfolds over the course of the book, exploring themes of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty.


Author Min Jin Lee masterfully weaves together historical events and personal narratives in Pachinko. The book explores the experiences of Korean immigrants living in Japan during a time of great political, social, and economic upheaval. Through her extensive research and attention to detail, Lee provides readers with a deep understanding of the historical context in which the characters’ lives unfold. This background adds richness and depth to the story, allowing readers to delve into the complexities of the characters’ lives and the choices they make.

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) - by Min Jin Lee

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Pachinko primarily takes place in Japan, with a focus on the city of Osaka. From bustling street markets to the halls of prestigious universities, the book paints a vivid picture of early 20th-century Japan. Lee’s descriptions transport readers to this vibrant and ever-changing world, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of the time. Additionally, the book also explores the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, providing a glimpse into a lesser-known aspect of Japanese society.


One of the strengths of Pachinko lies in its rich and complex characters. From Sunja, the determined and resilient protagonist, to the supporting cast of family members, friends, and acquaintances, each character is carefully crafted and fully realized. Throughout the book, readers witness the characters’ joys, struggles, and triumphs as they navigate relationships, societal expectations, and their own desires. By creating such multi-dimensional characters, Lee invites readers to form deep connections with them and to empathize with their experiences.

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) - by Min Jin Lee

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Plot Summary

The plot of Pachinko spans several decades and follows the lives of the characters as they face various challenges and opportunities. Sunja’s decision to marry a sickly minister sets off a chain of events that will reverberate through the generations. As the story unfolds, readers witness the characters’ struggles for survival, their pursuit of education and success, and their fight against discrimination and prejudice. Lee masterfully crafts a narrative that keeps readers engaged and invested in the outcome of each character’s journey.


Pachinko explores a myriad of themes that resonate with readers on a universal level. Love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty are just a few of the themes that permeate the narrative. The book also delves into the themes of identity, belonging, and the search for home. Through the experiences of the characters, readers are invited to reflect on their own lives and consider the challenges and choices they face.

Writing Style

Min Jin Lee’s writing style is characterized by its elegance and lyricism. Her prose flows effortlessly, drawing readers into the story and immersing them in the world she has created. Lee’s attention to detail and ability to create vivid imagery allow readers to fully envision the settings and the emotions of the characters. Additionally, her skillful use of dialogue brings the characters to life, making them feel authentic and relatable.

Critical Reception

Pachinko has received widespread critical acclaim since its publication. It was named a National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of 2017. The book has also garnered praise from readers and reviewers alike for its compelling storytelling, meticulous research, and nuanced portrayal of complex characters. Its exploration of themes and its examination of historical events have resonated with readers of all backgrounds, solidifying its place as a modern literary masterpiece.


In conclusion, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a powerful and emotionally resonant novel that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the lives of a Korean immigrant family in Japan. Through its vivid characters, rich setting, and engaging plot, the book explores themes of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. Lee’s masterful writing style and meticulous attention to detail bring the story to life, captivating readers from start to finish. With its critical acclaim and universal appeal, Pachinko is a book that should not be missed. Whether you are a fan of historical fiction or simply enjoy a well-crafted narrative, Pachinko is sure to captivate and move you.