New York Times: Match Book Recommends Pachinko

By Nicole Lamy

Dear Match Book,

I am spending two weeks this summer by a lake in New Hampshire and I plan to sit on the dock and get immersed in a few good books. I love reading family sagas — the longer the better — that are wrapped around historical events. My favorite books of this type have been “A Suitable Boy,” by Vikram Seth; “Angle of Repose,” by Wallace Stegner; “The Forsyte Saga,” by John Galsworthy; and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. I have read “War and Peace,” by Leo Tolstoy, which I consider the ultimate family saga wrapped around history, but I found that there was too much war and not enough peace for my taste.

Do you have any suggestions for both divinely engrossing and beautifully written family sagas?


Finally I suggest an urgent, satisfying saga from 2017 to add to your vacation reading stack: “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee. The careful, unadorned language of Lee’s second novel, the story of four generations of a Korean family living under Japanese forced occupation, is revealing and stealthily seductive. The story begins in earnest in 1932 with Sunja, a 16-year-old girl from a small village whose unexpected pregnancy changes the course of her life. Layers of history and politics build as the scope and sweep of the narrative widen. Yet even as the story stretches more than 50 years, Lee’s portraits of her characters — proud and tender — remain intimate.

Yours truly, Match Book

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