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Summary

Yeongdo, Korea - 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a 15-year-old girl. The couple have one child: their beloved daughter, Sunja. 

When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then, Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends and no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.

©2017 Min Jin Lee (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Pachinko

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Elaborate, beautifully written historical fiction

Despite being a story that takes place over many years and locations and with a large number of characters it was easy to listen and not be overwhelmed by this beauty. The sheer detail included in the writing is incredible, every character and location gets a detailed description of their appearance and personality, it is easy to feel like you are there or have seen the same places. I would never have picked this novel had it not been a chosen book of Emma Watson's book club, Our Shared Shelf, but I am so glad I decided to go with it. Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure. I learned so much about Korea and Japan at that time that I would not have known about without it. It is sad that the treatment of 'foreigners' in this story echoes what is happening in many countries still now... poignant and relevant.

31 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

2 dimensional characters, 1 dimensional narration

All the Korean characters are unfailingly honest, earnest, moral, innocent and hard-done-by. Even if we suppose that this corresponds to reality, it doesn't make for great fiction. It was boring. The pathos in the narrator's cadence didn't help.

18 people found this helpful

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Sweet, but too long

I have enjoyed listening to Pachinko. It has opened my eyes to a culture I knew nothing about. In fact, it made me realise that every country in the world has their own ‘Koreans’ to discriminate.
On the other hand, whilst the story is appealing, and the main characters are mostly gentle, warm, but long suffering people, it develops into an over sentimental novel. This is possibly because it’s far too long and, in my opinion, some of the characters don’t really add anything relevant to the story. I wish it had not been ‘stretched’ so pointlessly. Well edited , tighter and shorter could have been a much better novel. Hopefully it would not have deteriorated into such a cloying tearjerker.
Still, it is still worth listening to it as 2/3 of the novel are good.

13 people found this helpful

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insightful

really enjoyed learning about Korean culture food and their relationship with Japan. thank you for the choice

4 people found this helpful

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Long but Compelling

I cared for the characters and learned a lot listening to this book. Well narrated.

4 people found this helpful

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Pachinko

Real epic novel - great piece of work! The generations covered in the story gave a really rich
authenticity to the struggles over time in this part of the world.
Found it hard to put down.
Stunning characters I felt I actually knew!

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent narration and story...

..following a Korean family through four generations in Japan from the 1930s to the present day. I liked how the story and the characters grew on me as I read, a saga patiently told and a real page-turner in the end.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Reader!

Allison Hiroto does a perfect reading of this book. Fluent and expressive with authentic pronunciation (I think...?). It’s a real pleasure to listen to her. If you like epic novels that follow four or five generations, this book is for you. Ultimately, it’s about how parenthood (particularly motherhood) can play a role in defining your life.

3 people found this helpful

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A story of suffering and hope

I had no previous background on Korean and Japanese history and this book allowed me to broaden my horizons while dealing with the complexity of a honor-based society that is so far from my reality. It is definitely not an easy listen, you need to have some stomach, but there's also a lot of hope, strength and joy.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful

This is more like a work of art than a book. A beautiful story that paints the picture with such detail.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matt
  • 25-06-20

Bring on the corn

Instead of stars some books should be rated in corn. This is one of those. I'd give it five bowls. Corn by the shovel full. Want to be miserable for 18 hours and 14 minutes? Then this is the book for you. A lightweight story that should have been one third the length. The metaphors used throughout are lamentable to say the least. Amazed that it was published in the first place. 18 hours and 14 minutes of your life you'll never get back.
Get a Murakami novel instead.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-11-19

Captivating and Informative

loved how she weaves multigenerational stories in a way that makes sense and informative.

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  • Ando
  • 01-09-19

Hopeful and Despairing!

The novel reflects the resilience of the human spirit and of the role of family to sustain the individual person. I almost stopped reading after Noah's suicide but life goes on. We navigate life despite the evil and bigotry that surrounds us because there is also decency and compassion even if it is limited to our small circles.