The discovery: I think I first learned about Min Jin Lee's new novel, Pachinko, at BEA last year, so it didn't take much for me to say yes when offered a review copy from the publicist. I liked the setting and the premise and was impressed by the universally positive reviews. Here's the publisher's summary:
Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.Why I want to read Pachinko: I'm a sucker for a long family saga, and this novel, which spans the twentieth century, has all the promise of good story lines--an affair, a marriage of convenience, a struggle to find a place and identity. I also like the settings of Korea and Japan. I was unaware of the difficulties that Koreans have experienced after emigration to Japan, and especially in light of today's politics, I want to know more about this clash of cultures.
So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
Reviews: Pachinko has won several starred reviews, and Kirkus calls it "An old-fashioned epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth." Publisher Weekly notes that although this is a character-driven novel Lee sets a strong historical foundation. Post magazine mentions the uneasy relationship between Korean immigrants in Japan, which (as I mentioned) informs this book.
Extra: The Chicago Review of Books interview with Min Jin Lee offers excellent contextual baground to both the author and the novel.
Data: Published by Grand Central Publishing, February 7, 2017; ISBN: 9781478967439. Lee's debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires was a London Times Top 10 Novel of the Year. Pachinko is an Indie Next Pick and has starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal.
The giveaway: Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, I am able to offer a copy of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko to one lucky reader with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on February 16. Once the winner has been confirmed and the mailing address has been passed along to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck.