Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £24.99

Buy Now for £24.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    637
  • 4 Stars
    295
  • 3 Stars
    99
  • 2 Stars
    28
  • 1 Stars
    9
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    618
  • 4 Stars
    227
  • 3 Stars
    64
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    11
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    552
  • 4 Stars
    262
  • 3 Stars
    95
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

insightful

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

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Long but Compelling

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

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful

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

3 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ronesh Rampersad
  • Ronesh Rampersad
  • 14-07-22

Incredible journey into Korean/Japanese history

This was my first historical fiction novel, coming from a sci-fi, horror and thriller background. So I can't really compare it to other historical fiction novels or Asian authors. Having said that, my wife has read countless historical fiction novels and she thoroughly enjoyed it. For me, it is an eye-opening take on the early colonisation of Korea by Japan and the hardships endured by the Korean people, both in Korea and Japan, spanning a few generations. The story reads like a bit like a fable (not sure if that's a good or bad thing), but overall, a very well-rounded story. There's obviously a lot of research that went into the novel, so there's a great deal to learn about the early 20th century history in Korea/Japan. Very enjoyable, with some sad bits in between. There are some negative reviews out there, but rather read/listen to the book before you judge.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nwabisa Bangeni
  • Nwabisa Bangeni
  • 09-11-21

The tenuous threads of families

Min Jin Lee's Pachinko delves into the impact of the political on the personal, the implication of one into the other, and the impossibility of separating the two. The story required of me to leave judgment at the door, and to be persuaded by cultural convictions that are different from mine. I also found the patience to understand and to accept the deep flaws of some characters. If read as the story of a family over the years, then the temporal leaps and character-hopping will not be frustrating. The family lives through many historically significant moments, but the novels dwells on the intimate rather than spectacular. We get to witness the impact of war and strife on the individual lives; we have read in other records how Japan and Korea were affected on a larger scale by the wars, but the novel spells out what the minutes, hours and days of those times meant for families. It is a story of becoming, transitions and the tenuous threads that knit people into families. I enjoyed Allison Hiroto's performance and reading; her voice brought softness into this world of unrelenting challenges, and mediated my experience of it. Having read other reviews, I think readers' preferences and expectations determine the type of encounter one has with the novel. I found it utterly compelling.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Aaron Young
  • Aaron Young
  • 12-05-21

A really lovely and insightful story

The story is beautiful, moving and insightful

Coving topics of racism, sacrifice, forgiveness and friendship it is well worth reading


  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matt
  • 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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-11-19

Captivating and Informative

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ando
  • 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.