Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Audiobook Length: 18 hours and 16 minutes
First Published: 2017
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.
Quotes from Pachinko
“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”
“We cannot help but be interested in the stories of people that history pushes aside so thoughtlessly.”
“You want to see a very bad man? Make an ordinary man successful beyond his imagination. Let’s see how good he is when he can do whatever he wants.”
Discussion Questions for Pachinko
- Of all the possible titles, why do you think Min Jin Lee chose Pachinko?
- Sunja is repeatedly told that a woman’s life is pain and suffering? Do you feel the woman of the novel suffered more than the men? By the end of her life, do you think Sunja would pass this advice on to the next generation?
- Shame is an underlying theme throughout the book. How did shame affect the choices of the different characters?
- At almost 500 pages, Pachinko is a rather hefty novel. Do you feel like the story justified the page count? What parts would you have cut out, and what stories would you have preferred more of?