Regular price: $29.65

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

A new tour de force from the best-selling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for fans of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone.

Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.

So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

©2017 Min Jin Lee (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"If proof were needed that one family's story can be the story of the whole world, then Pachinko offers that proof. Min Jin Lee's novel is gripping from start to finish, crossing cultures and generations with breathtaking power. Pachinko is a stunning achievement, full of heart, full of grace, full of truth." (Erica Wagner, author of Ariel's Gift and Seizure)
"Both for those who love Korea, as well as for those who know no more than Hyundai, Samsung, and kimchi, this extraordinary book will prove a revelation of joy and heartbreak. I could not stop turning the pages, and wished this most poignant of sagas would never end. Min Jin Lee displays a tenderness and wisdom ideally matched to an unforgettable tale that she relates just perfectly." (Simon Winchester, New York Times best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman and Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles)
"A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century." ( The Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,306
  • 4 Stars
    746
  • 3 Stars
    312
  • 2 Stars
    73
  • 1 Stars
    36

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,327
  • 4 Stars
    558
  • 3 Stars
    230
  • 2 Stars
    73
  • 1 Stars
    57

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,165
  • 4 Stars
    658
  • 3 Stars
    294
  • 2 Stars
    85
  • 1 Stars
    37
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

nice story narration was off putting

the story was great but the narrator sounds child like. it takes a few hours to get used to her voice, inflection, and tonality. sometimes it seemed like she was reading a childrens book.

39 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • San Franciso, CA, United States
  • 03-23-17

Historically interesting, but...

Narrator had sweet voice but not suited to story. Into the book, some profanity and descriptions of sexual encounters were either not credible or seemed that way because of the narration.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

wonderful book

loved the story but wish Audible could have found a Korean American or anybody who could pronounce Korean words correctly.
it was disappointing to hear some Korean words pronounced incorrectly.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too Much Telling

Not only is there too much telling in this novel, it is too long. Much of the dialogue is stilted and some of the sex scenes seem gratuitous. Still, some of the characters are compelling.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

And this was nominated for awards because...?

I enjoyed the first half of the book in spite of the simplistic prose and awful audio performer (who narrated as if she were reading to five-year-olds). Sunja's story and the characters who populate her life (in particular her sister-in-law and husband) were engaging.

But halfway though, the book started to completely fall apart. Huge jumps in time made the story feel fractured. Characters who have little to do with anything get their stories told in a couple of chapters and then disappear. A major character commits suicide (literally one line is devoted to it) and that's about it until near the end of the book when there's about a paragraph. The meeting, marriage, and death (of one character) happen in one chapter. Another major character is absent from the book for years, pops back in briefly, and is gone again. Sunja herself is largely absent in the second half.

Also what was odd and jarring was the constant the badly written objectification of women and all the sex. In these cases, modern terms were used to describe the women (almost always crude) and the same goes with sex. The descriptions of sexual encounters read more like bad erotica or pornography. The story starts in the early 1900s, the audio narrator sounds like she's reading to kids, and then there's all these badly written sex scenes? It was just creepy and strange. Nobody ever had sex or made love, they ONLY f***ed. There's a difference between the three, and I'm mystified as to why the author didn't manage to use the appropriate term for what the encounter was, because it wasn't just f***ing. And even if it was, was that word (which I don't object to in any way) around in the early 1900s and in common use? Was this a book in translation (that was poorly translated)? Does the author not know anything about sex? I'm pretty sure a computer algorithm would have done a better job on those parts. Where was the editor?

The book could have used more historical context as well. I was interested in what was there, but it wasn't enough for me. I would have loved to hear the history of pachinko. It's the name of the book, but pachinko doesn't even show up till hour 9 and then there's very little history or description.

The book started off as 3 stars and ended at one star, so I guess I'll give it 2. But my advice would be not to invest a credit and 16 hours of your life to this novel.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Awkward and simple

This novel portrays the pitfalls of an author writing a story in a setting she knows very little about, especially while covering such a vast timeframe. The book is awkward - evidences of the author’s ignorance and insufficient research is scattered throughout the book - from, for example, the excessive and inappropriate usage of “ne” in speech combined with the omission of the Osaka dialect, Noah’s choice of university (why not Doshisha, a Christian university of a similar standing as Waseda in the Kansai region, or even another closer, cheaper and better public university?), no reference to the policies of the GHQ (the occupation led by General MacArthur) and their interplay with the Korean conflict and the lives of zainichi (in Japan) Koreans after WWII, Noah’s end (guns are extremely rare in Japan), no reference to the differences on views towards zainichi Koreans between the Kansai and Kanto regions, etc. and the more mundane descriptions such as reference to dowry (there exists no Japanese custom of bride or bride’s family giving money/assets to the husband’s family) and cooking in peanut oil (no peanut oil in traditional Japanese home cooking). The list continues. It seems the author relied excessively on assumptions. This is very unfortunate particularly because the story takes up a theme that should be told.

Other than such awkwardness, I felt the book had insufficient character development or rather, simple characters, and partly as a result, the story was simplistic. It lacked the complexity it could have had given the historic background of the time, the length of the story and the timeframe it covered, as well as its theme.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

The destruction a good book

The first book is excellent, the story of the Korean Family living in Japan after the occupation of Japan in Korea. Learning about the Korean culture and the difficulties to integration between the two cultures. In the first book we learn, no much, the Japan intervention in War II, the lost of the German war and Japan, the occupation, only mention, of the Americans in Japan. The second book. There is a lot of repetition of feelings and situation, is like the writer thinks that we have short memory problem and she has to reflex our minds. In that moment I start passing chapters without reading. The 3rd book is even worst, she brings people, just to enlarge the book, people that to enhance the story, only make more boring.
I really hate when a writer destroy the book.
Allison Hiroto, i will never read a book reading by her. Her voice is boring, she does not know to do different type of voices, everyone sounds the same. Do not lose your money in this book, a credit is to much for it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Total lack of character development...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This book needed character development. The story could have been so wonderful with three dimensional people.

Has Pachinko turned you off from other books in this genre?

Too many recent novels have had a lack of character development. This is just another on the list..

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator spoke like a careful child.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • DM
  • 01-02-18

Reads like an apprentice novel

Min Jin Lee has an agenda, to be sure, to explore the meaning of ethnic and gender identity amidst conflicts of war, colonization, economic devastation, and so on. Unfortunately, the perspective is neither original or interestingly narrated. Filled with wooden dialog and a plethora of irrelevant detail, the book should not have made the NYTimes list of the ten best novels of 2017.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An Addictive Tale of a Family set in Korea and Japan

A heartbreaking tale about a family and people who color their lives in the turbulent times of history in one of the most fascinating corners of the world, Korea and Japan. The author tackles the complicated relationship between the Japanese and the Koreans, bringing to life sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of a network of characters, each with their own fascinating history. Ms. Lee paints humanity at their best and at their worst.,There are no black and white villains or angels. Almost Everyone is both good and bad with the exception of a couple of angelic characters, Isaac and Kyunghee. There’s warmth and enough humor to help you not to die of heartbreak reading this wonderful family saga. Highly recommended.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful