WBUR: On Point Radio—Best Books of 2017

Karen Shiffman, executive producer: “Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee.

Every time Min Jin Lee writes a book, it ends up as my pick for the Best Book of the Year. In 2008, it was “Free Food for Millionaires,” a book about a Korean-American family and a daughter’s struggle to fit in to both cultures. I recommended it to everyone and my copy made the rounds. I loved it so much that I started an email correspondence with the author and kept asking “When is your next book coming out?” This year, she’s out with “Pachinko,” and it was worth the long wait. This time, Lee tells the story of four generations of Koreans living in exile in Japan. There are some familiar themes in this book: racism, social mobility, and clash of cultures. In case you’re wondering, pachinko is a Japanese-style slot machine. Lee uses it to tell the stories of people trying to beat the odds in a world stacked against them. After reading a few pages, you’ll be rooting for them, too. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.

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