Review

Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“What do you think about when it’s quiet and you’re not doing much?”

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: August 10th, 2017
Pages: 537
Rate: 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get a copy: Textbookcentre

Goodreads Synopsis
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.

“-to know what is important, that to live without forgiveness was a kind of death with breathing and movement.”

My Take
One thing I noted anytime I posted on my socials about Pachinko, is that it’s a well loved book. For a minute I was scared to read it because of the hype, and I’m here to tell you it’s warranted!

Pachinko is set up in a historical and political context from the Japanese occupation in 1910 in Korea. This is key in the book as it follows a long the relationship between Korea and Japan. Now I found Min Jin Lee’s writing simple. Its not the best but it feels intentional, especially when she writes about the characters. Sunja and Yaijing come from a really, really, humble background and they live a simple, with not much hope for more. This didn’t deter me from enjoying the book though, quite the opposite as it was quite easy to get through and didn’t feel intimidating. (this book is huge!)


Pachinko is one compelling book – dare I say its a multi generational story? We follow Sunja from before she was born till she’s an old woman in her 70s. Through that, Min Jin Lee tells a story that explores war and conflict, cultural practices, immigration, Faith, sex and sensuality, and she does it so well! I didn’t want to put the book down. I love how she integrated all these together which gave me an insight of what it was like back then. Granted that this is a fiction book, it does show some parallel of both what is real and fictitious. If you’re a history junkie like me, you’ll enjoy this so much.

The characters in this book are interesting to read up on. With morally gray ones being my favourite! We have some who are struggling with identity and figuring out who they are, we have those in such of a place to call home and then we have those who just move through the motions in life. Fighting to justify their choices, all of them come together to bring out this well told story.

My only issue with the book, there’s little character development and it becomes annoying as the book comes to an end.


Pachinko is a story of loss and political upheaval that will have you hooked. If you favor both character driven and plot driven books, then this one is definitely for you.

Have you read Pachinko? If yes, what did you think about it? If no, you can grab a copy here and let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

  1. I’ve this book on my radar for the longest time and yes it’s a must have especially since you mentioned history. Love the review and honesty of what stood out and, what didn’t work for you

    1. If you do get a chance to read it, please do. I feel like it’s an important book especially if you want to know more about the Japanese invasion and what it resulted to.

  2. I enjoyed this book, thoroughly. I must also thank you for the review had it not been for your insights, I would have denied myself such a beautifully told story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.