Toronto Star: “Sweeping and Powerful”


By Min Jin Lee

Grand Central, 496 pages, $35

Sweeping and powerful, Pachinko is the story of a Korean family told over seventy years and through four generations. It begins in Korea in the early 1900s: Sunja’s downtrodden family has high hopes for their glittering prize of a daughter — until she’s plucked out from under them by a charming fish broker who tells her too late that he’s already married. Pregnant and alone, Sunja is rescued by a young missionary who says he will marry her and bring her with him to Japan. Here, Koreans are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against even if they were born in the country. Eventually Sunja and her family manage to rise above, securing their place so their descendants can live in Japan and tell their own stories. This novel is weighty and detailed, yet time passes quickly when immersed in its pages. The many characters are finely drawn and each layer of the story is expertly placed.