Please join moderator Kathy Schultenover for a discussion of the book, Pachinko. Parnassus Book Club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read the book and join the discussion.
Pachinko is a tour de force following one Korean family through the generations. Universally praised as one of the best books of 2017, Pachinko is a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. Now in trade paperback, Min Jin Lee is going back on the road touring well into 2018 across the country. If you have yet to discover this amazing novel, now is your chance to see why Junot Díaz says that “Pachinko confirms Lee’s place among our finest novelists.” History is seldom kind. In Min Jin Lee’s bestselling, magisterial epic, four generations of a poor, proud immigrant family fight to control their destinies, exiled from a homeland they never knew. 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 the 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 against the indifferent arc of history. There is a long and troubled history of legal and social discrimination against Koreans living in Japan. While writing Pachinko, Min Jin (who herself was born in Korea before moving to the US) lived in Japan with her husband and son and interviewed dozens of ethnic Koreans about their family histories. Pachinko itself is a popular type of adult pinball game, which originated in Japan in the first half of the 20th Century.