Book Reviews and Highlights

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)

Min Jin Lee

  • Asian American
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Family Life
  • Fiction
  • Historical
  • Literary
  • History has failed us, but no matter.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 10
  • #first-sentence
  • The fisherman and his wife raised their surviving son, the neighborhood cripple, to be clever and diligent, because they did not know who would care for him after they died.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 11
  • The peasants knew that a spoiled son did more harm to a family than a dead one, and they kept themselves from indulging him too much.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 11
  • Hoonie would have known enough not to want something he could not have— this forbearance was something that any normal peasant would have accepted about his life and what he was allowed to desire.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 12
  • He loved his child the way his parents had loved him, but he found that he could not deny her anything. Sunja was a normal- looking girl with a quick laugh and bright, but to her father, she was a beauty, and he marveled at her perfection.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 16
  • Korea had been colonized for twenty- two years already. The younger two had never lived in a Korea that wasn’t ruled by Japan.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 19
  • “But did you know, the young man had already heard of your cooking from his brother who stayed ten years ago? Ah, the belly has a better memory than the heart!”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 26
  • Hoonie never said much, but it was obvious to his daughter, even then, that many sought his quiet approval— the thoughtful gaze from his honest eyes.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 32
  • Sunja- ya, a woman’s life is endless work and suffering. There is suffering and then more suffering. It’s better to expect it, you know. You’re becoming a woman now, so you should be told this. For a woman, the man you marry will determine the quality of your life completely. A good man is a decent life, and a bad man is a cursed life— but no matter what, always expect suffering, and just keep working hard. No one will take care of a poor woman— just ourselves.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 34
  • “People are rotten everywhere you go. They’re no good. 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.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 47
  • Her father had taught her not to judge people on such shallow points: What a man wore or owned had nothing to do with his heart and character.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 49
  • The country had been under the colonial government for over two decades, and no one could see an end in sight. It felt like everyone had given up.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 62
  • He had become almost inured to death; his frailty had reinforced his conviction that he must do something of consequence while he had the time.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 65
  • The elder pastor spoke at length about the troubles the churches had been facing. More people were afraid to attend services here and in Japan because the government didn’t approve. The Canadian missionaries had already left.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 68
  • “God makes the prophet Hosea marry a harlot and raise children he didn’t father. I suppose the Lord does this to teach the prophet what it feels like to be wedded to a people who continually betray him. Isn’t that right?” Isak asked.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 69
  • “The child would have a terrible life here. You’d be saving my daughter’s life as well. If you would take care of my daughter, I’d gladly pay you with my life, sir. I’d pay twice if I could.” She bowed low, her head almost touching the yellow floor, and wiped her eyes.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 79
  • Isak felt embarrassed, because it had occurred to him that, like an ordinary man, he wanted a wife who’d love him, not just feel indebted to him.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 79
  • “She’s not getting a good bargain. I may fall ill again soon. But I’d try to be a decent husband. And I would love the child. He would be mine, too.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 79
  • Sunja imagined that his prayer would act like a thick cloak to shield them.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 81
  • A striped cat was slinking about the rice seller’s straw shoes and purring happily.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 88
  • Her tiny, gracious eyes, which resembled tadpoles, pulled downward to meet her knobby cheekbones.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 94
  • She wanted to send more pantry items like dried jujubes, chili flakes, chili paste, large dried anchovies, and fermented soybean paste to give to Isak’s sister- in- law, but Isak told her that they could
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 95
  • No one in the family would have ever been taken aback by Isak’s acts of selflessness. As a child, he’d been the kind who’d have sacrificed all his meals and possessions to the poor if allowed.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 100
  • “When you’re munching on sweet rice cakes in Japan, remember me, lonely and sad in Yeongdo, missing you; imagine Fatso’s heart torn out like the mouth of a sea bass hooked too young.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 101
  • They got off at Ikaino, the ghetto where the Koreans lived. When they reached Yoseb’s home, it looked vastly different from the nice houses she’d passed by on the trolley ride from the station. The animal stench was stronger than the smell of food cooking or even the odors of the outhouses. Sunja wanted to cover her nose and mouth, but kept from doing so.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 103
  • “It’s not good to let on that you’re an owner. The landlords here are bastards; that’s all everyone complains about. I bought this with the money Father gave me when I moved out here. I couldn’t afford to buy it now.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 104
  • Hansu owned many properties in Osaka. How did he do that? she wondered.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 105
  • “Never lend anyone money,” Yoseb said, looking straight at Isak, who appeared puzzled by this order.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 106
  • “If you have extra money or valuables, let me know. We’ll put it aside. I have a bank account. Everyone who lives here needs money, clothes, rent, and food; there’s very little you can do to fix all of their problems. We’ll give to the church— no different than how we were raised— but the church has to hand things out. You don’t understand what it’s like here. Try to avoid talking to the neighbors, and never ever let anyone in the house,” Yoseb said soberly to Isak and Sunja.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 106
  • If people think we have extra, our house will be robbed. We don’t have a lot, Isak. We have to be very careful, too. Once you start giving, it will never stop.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 107
  • Yoseb warned his brother: “Don’t get mixed up in the politics, labor organizing, or any such nonsense. Keep your head down and work. Don’t pick up or accept any of the independence- movement or socialist tracts. If the police find that stuff on you, you’ll get picked up and put in jail. I’ve seen it all.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 109
  • Protesting was for young men without families.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 110
  • She wanted to devote herself to Isak and her child. To do that, she would have to forget Hansu.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 113
  • It wasn’t uncommon to hear rationalizations of this sort— the longing to transform bad deeds into good ones.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 119
  • “We must support our family, this is true,” Yoo prefaced, and the sister appeared visibly relieved, “but we have to be careful of your virtue— it is more valuable than money. Your body is a sacred temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. Your brother’s concern is legitimate. Apart from our faith and speaking practically, if you are to marry, your purity and reputation are important, too. The world judges girls harshly for improprieties— and even accidents. It’s wrong, but it is the way this sinful world works,” Yoo said.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 120
  • “You’re right, it’d be better if your brother could go to school. Even for a year or two so he could know how to read and write. There’s no better choice than education, of course; our country needs a new generation of educated people to lead us.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 121
  • Because Kyunghee stuck to a careful budget, they’d been able to send money to Yoseb’s parents and her own— both families having lost all of their arable land.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 127
  • “First, you wash the bones very carefully in cold water. Then you boil the bones and throw that first batch of water out because it will have all the blood and dirt that you don’t want in your broth. Then you boil it again with clean, cold water, then simmer it for a long, long time until the broth is white like tofu, then you add daikon, chopped scallions, and salt. It’s delicious and very good for your health.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 129
  • “Do you think housewives would buy another woman’s kimchi?” “Why not! Don’t you think I make good kimchi? My family cook made the finest pickles in Pyongyang.”
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 132
  • For Kyunghee’s sake, Sunja brightened up and linked arms with her sister- in- law, who seemed to drag a little. Arm in arm, they went to buy cabbage and daikon.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 133
  • But it was smarter for them to pay off this debt; if she’d been allowed to get a job before, they would’ve had savings.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 143
  • Yoseb said nothing. The moneylender would see him like all the other men who sponged off their wives toiling in factories or working as domestics. His wife and pregnant sister- in- law had paid his debt with what was likely a stolen watch.
  • Book I: Gohyang/Hometown | Page: 147
  • Japan would save China by bringing technological advancements to a rural economy; Japan would end poverty in Asia and make it prosper; Japan would protect Asia from the pernicious hands of Western imperialism; and only Germany, Japan’s true and fearless ally, was fighting the evils of the West.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 152
  • Each day, Yoseb read three or four papers to glean some truth from the gaps and overlaps. Tonight, all the papers repeated virtually the same things; the censors must’ve been working especially hard the night before.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 152
  • The minister would be held for a very long time— these religious activists always were. In times of war, there had to be crackdowns against troublemakers for the sake of national security.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 155
  • Yoseb didn’t see the point of anyone dying for his country or for some greater ideal. He understood survival and family.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 156
  • Pastor Yoo, a faithful and pragmatic minister, had believed that the shrine ceremony, where the townspeople were required to gather and perform rites, was in fact a pagan ritual drummed up to rouse national feeling.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 159
  • In a way, the two women tried to obey Yoseb in their disobedience— they did not want to hurt Yoseb by defying him, but the financial burdens had become impossible for one man to bear alone.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 160
  • “Kimchi! Delicious kimchi! Try this delicious kimchi, and never make it at home again!” she shouted.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 161
  • When there were no cabbages at the market, the women pickled radishes, cucumbers, garlic, or chives, and sometimes Kyunghee pickled carrots or eggplant without garlic or chili paste, because the Japanese preferred those kinds of pickles.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 163
  • People were willing to lie about small things and to disregard your interests.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 166
  • The children were merciless, but Noa didn’t fight them; rather, he worked harder on his studies, and to the surprise of his teachers, he was the first or second in academic rank in his second grade class.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 167
  • He believed that a hardworking man should be able to take care of his family by himself, and that a woman should remain at home.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 174
  • No matter how hard he worked, there was never enough money— the yen notes and coins dropped out of his pockets as if they had gaping holes.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 175
  • So save your own ass— this was what Koreans believed privately. Save your family. Feed your belly. Pay attention, and be skeptical of the people in charge. If the Korean nationalists couldn’t get their country back, then let your kids learn Japanese and try to get ahead. Adapt. Wasn’t it as simple as that?
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 175
  • In the end, your belly was your emperor.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 175
  • Which was worse— his wife working for moneylenders or him owing money to them? For a Korean man, the choices were always shit.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 176
  • After a breakfast of barley porridge and miso soup, he’d rinse his mouth and check his white teeth in the small round hand mirror by the sink.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 177
  • In his clean, pressed clothes, Noa looked like a middle- class Japanese child from a wealthier part of town, bearing no resemblance to the unwashed ghetto children outside his door.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 177
  • ones. At school, he went by his Japanese name, Nobuo Boku, rather than Noa Baek; and though everyone in his class knew he was Korean from his Japanized surname, if he met anyone who didn’t know this fact, Noa wasn’t forthcoming about this detail.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 178
  • For two years, God had not answered Noa’s prayers, though his father had promised him that God listens very carefully to the prayers of children.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 178
  • Above all the other secrets that Noa could not speak of, the boy wanted to be Japanese; it was his dream to leave Ikaino and never to return.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 178
  • The factory owner believed that if all Asian countries were run with a kind of Japanese efficiency, attention to detail, and high level of organization, Asia as a whole would prosper and rise— able to defeat the unscrupulous West.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 184
  • The sweet scent of biscuits wafted out the door. The boy had never eaten one of those biscuits, never having asked for one.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 185
  • “You must be a diligent person with a humble heart. Have compassion for everyone. Even your enemies. Do you understand that, Noa? Men may be unfair, but the Lord is fair. You’ll see. You will,” Isak said, his exhausted voice tapering off.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 193
  • “You are very brave, Noa. Much, much braver than me. Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 194
  • “I’ve told you this before: Never listen to anyone who tells you there’s good factory work in China or any of the other colonies. Those jobs don’t exist. Do you understand me?”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 201
  • The American bombs had burned down the cinemas, department stores, and their beloved confectioneries, but glittering images of such urban pleasures called to them still, feeding their growing discontent.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 207
  • “I’ll take care of myself and my people. You think I’d trust my life to a bunch of politicians? The people in charge don’t know anything. And the ones who do don’t care.”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 213
  • Unable to breathe normally, she turned from him and stared at the oxen— their enormous dark eyes, full of eternal suffering.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 214
  • Mostly, she felt ashamed of her life, her powerlessness. With her sun- browned hands and dirty fingernails, she touched her uncombed hair.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 223
  • He was very good at school and good at teaching himself things from books. He loved learning.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 225
  • There’s no such thing as a benevolent leader. I protect you because you work for me. If you act like a fool and go against my interests, then I can’t protect you.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 228
  • Patriotism is just an idea, so is capitalism or communism. But ideas can make men forget their own interests. And the guys in charge will exploit men who believe in ideas too much.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 229
  • Again, Yoseb told none of their neighbors that he was the owner of the house— it always being wiser to appear poorer than you are.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 230
  • All seven of them— three generations and one family friend— lived in the house in Ikaino.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 230
  • He could’ve made more money working for Koreans in the pachinko business or in yakiniku restaurants, but Noa didn’t want that.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 241
  • “He is my child. He has my ambition. He has my abilities. I will not let my own blood rot in the gutters of Ikaino.”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 266
  • “No, I must. We must try to build a nation again. We can’t only think of our own comfort.”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 268
  • Were you supposed to have only one person in your life? Her mother had her father and no one else. Was her person Hansu or Isak?
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 272
  • “Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge— it’s the only kind of power no one can take away from you.”
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 273
  • Hansu never told him to study, but rather to learn, and it occurred to Noa that there was a marked difference. Learning was like playing, not labor.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 273
  • “You have read everything by George Eliot? That’s impressive,” he said, never having met anyone else who had done so.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 275
  • Nevertheless, until he really listened to Akiko disagree with the professor, he had not thought for himself fully, and it had never occurred to him to disagree in public.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 278
  • Like his brother, Noa, Yumi thought English was the most important language and America was the best country.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 290
  • People like Moses and Yumi had never been to Korea. There was always talk of Koreans going back home, but in a way, all of them had lost the home in their minds for good.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 293
  • Above all, he believed that a man must learn constantly.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 299
  • He ate the way most working Koreans did: Tasty food was merely necessary fuel, something to be eaten in a rush so you could return to your work.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 300
  • She could not see his humanity, and Noa realized that this was what he wanted most of all: to be seen as human.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 305
  • Isak had said that Noa would help the Korean people by his excellence of character and workmanship, and that no one would be able to look down on him.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 306
  • Baek Isak wanted you as his son. Blood doesn’t matter. Can you understand that?
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 307
  • The stupid heart could not help but hope.
  • Book II: Motherland | Page: 311
  • ‘Bingo- san, I have a headache that will not go away, because it is so hard to find good workers. The fools here have pumpkins for heads, and seeds are not brains.’”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 324
  • Solomon attended an international preschool where only English was spoken.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 341
  • Sunja opened a blue tin of imported butter cookies and put some on a plate. She filled the teapot with hot water and floated a generous pinch of tea leaves.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 347
  • Over lunch, for thirty minutes a day, he reread Dickens, Trollope, or Goethe, and he remembered who he was inside.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 355
  • Today is Wednesday so he will eat zaru soba, taking less than fifteen minutes. He will read a little of his English novel, then return to his office. This is why he is so successful, I think. He does not make mistakes. Noa has a plan.”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 377
  • The penalties incurred for the mistakes you made had to be paid out in full to the members of your family. But she didn’t believe that she could ever discharge these sums.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 386
  • We can be deported. We have no motherland. Life is full of things he cannot control so he must adapt. My boy has to survive.”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 390
  • If life allowed revisions, she would let them stay in their bath a little longer, read them one more story before bed, and fix them another plate of shrimp.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 397
  • Solomon rode in the last car with his best friends, Nigel, the son of an English banker, and Ajay, the son of an Indian shipping company executive.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 399
  • Every morning, Mozasu and his men tinkered with the machines to fix the outcomes— there could only be a few winners and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones. How could you get angry at the ones who wanted to be in the game?
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 402
  • Etsuko had failed in this important way— she had not taught her children to hope, to believe in the perhaps- absurd possibility that they might win. Pachinko was a foolish game, but life was not.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 402
  • The new Sony color television was on, its volume low, as the three women waited to watch Yangjin’s favorite program, Other Lands.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 406
  • The interviewer was no ordinary woman of her generation; she was unmarried, childless, and a skilled world- traveling journalist who could ask any intimate question.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 408
  • “A woman’s lot is to suffer,” Señora Wakamura said.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 409
  • All her life, Sunja had heard this sentiment from other women, that they must suffer— suffer as a girl, suffer as a wife, suffer as a mother— die suffering. Go- saeng— the word made her sick. What else was there besides this?
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 410
  • Illness and dying had revealed her mother’s truer thoughts, the ones her mother had been protecting her from.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 412
  • “Okay, tough guy,” Kazu said. “Listen, there is a tax, you know, on success.”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 437
  • “If you do well at anything, you gotta pay up to all the people who did worse. On the other hand, if you do badly, life makes you pay a shit tax, too. Everybody pays something.”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 437
  • “So then the success tax comes from envy, and the shit tax comes from exploitation. Okay.”
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 438
  • Phoebe laughed, because the fact that none of them cooked Korean food was a point of pride. Her mother and her sisters tended to look down at women who cooked a lot and constantly tried to make you eat. The four of them were very thin.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 445
  • Like Phoebe, they were the kind of women who were constantly moving around and seemed uninterested in eating because they were so absorbed in their work.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 445
  • How wonderful it would be not to have to worry about a war or having enough food to eat, or finding shelter.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 446
  • “When are you going to marry Solomon?” Sunja asked, without shifting her focus from the frying pan. An older woman had a right to ask this sort of thing, though she was still a little afraid to do it.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 446
  • “You should take over your father’s business.” “Pachinko?” “Yes, pachinko. Why not? All these idiots who say bad things about it are jealous. Your father is an honest person. He could be richer if he was crooked, but he’s rich enough. Goro is a good guy, too. He might be a yak, but who cares? I don’t. And if he isn’t, I’m sure he knows them all. It’s a filthy world, Solomon. No one is clean.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 460
  • “Japan will never change. It will never ever integrate gaijin, and my darling, here you will always be a gaijin and never Japanese. Nee?
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 461
  • Her confidence and self- possession had mesmerized him in college. Her equanimity, which had seemed so important in the States, seemed like aloofness and arrogance in Tokyo.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 465
  • In a way, Solomon was Japanese, too, even if the Japanese didn’t think so. Phoebe couldn’t see this. There was more to being something than just blood.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 465
  • She covered the hole with dirt and grass, then did what she could to clean her hands with her handkerchief, but dirt remained beneath her nails. Sunja tamped down the earth, then brushed the grass with her fingers.
  • Book III: Pachinko | Page: 473
  • #last-sentence
  • Sadly, there is a long and troubled history of legal and social discrimination against the Koreans in Japan and those who have partial ethnic Korean backgrounds.
  • Acknowledgments | Page: 474
  • The Korean Japanese may have been historical victims, but when I met them in person, none of them were as simple as that. I was so humbled by the breadth and complexity of the people I met in Japan that I put aside my old draft and started to write the book again in 2008, and I continued to write it and revise it until its publication.
  • Acknowledgments | Page: 475
  • I have had this story with me for almost thirty years. Consequently, there are many people to thank.
  • Acknowledgments | Page: 475
  • When I lived in Tokyo, a great number of individuals agreed to sit with me and answer my many questions about the Koreans in Japan as well as about expatriate life, international finance, the yakuza, the history of colonial Christianity, police work, immigration, Kabukicho, poker, Osaka, Tokyo real estate deals, leadership in Wall Street, mizu shobai, and of course, the pachinko industry.
  • Acknowledgments | Page: 475
  • However, what really moved me to write this novel and to rewrite it so many times were the compelling stories of individuals who struggled to face historical catastrophes.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 483
  • In Western literature, omniscient narration was the popular style in the nineteenth century, and it is my favorite point of view for community narratives.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 484
  • If history so often fails to represent all of us, it is not because historians are not interested, but because historians often lack the primary documents of so- called minor characters in history.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 485
  • I find that in life, even the most unsympathetic person has a clear delineation of his motives, however complex and unappealing, but to him, there is a moral clarity to his actions.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 486
  • Which authors do you admire? I adore nineteenth-century writers Bronte, Eliot, Trollope, Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and Balzac. I also love Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, Tanizaki, Henry James, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison. As for modern living writers, I very much admire Lynn Ahrens, Lan Samantha Chang, Alexander Chee, Junot Díaz, Robin Marantz Henig, Kazuo Ishiguru, Colson Whitehead, Haruki Murakami, David Henry Hwang, Meg Wolitzer, Maxine Hong Kingston, Hilton Als, Simon Winchester, Chang-rae Lee, David Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Gary Shteyngart, William Trevor, and Erica Wagner. The writings of Cynthia Ozick, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Audre Lorde, Vivian Gornick, bell hooks, James Baldwin, and Virginia Woolf continue to encourage me to write more honestly and to dwell on subjects that matter to me.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 486
  • For me, the pachinko business and the game itself serve as metaphors for the history of Koreans in Japan— a people caught in seemingly random global conflicts— as they win, lose, and struggle for their place and for their lives.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 491
  • In Pachinko, I am acknowledging the physicality and beauty of working- class immigrant women.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 492
  • I am interested in the physicality of women who live their daily struggles with integrity; their beauty captivates those who know them.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 493
  • Living in Tokyo, I missed America very much; I yearned for the openness, hospitality, and optimism of Americans.
  • Reading Group Guide | Page: 493