When Min Jin Lee published her multi-generational saga Pachinko in 2017, it took the literary world by storm. It landed on 75 best-of lists, was a finalist for the National Book Award — and made it into the ‘must read’ recommendations of former US president Barack Obama.
The sprawling saga of sacrifice, oppression and resilience is told through four generations of one ethnic-Korean family, pivoting around its indomitable matriarch Sunja Baek — and taking readers on a journey from Yeongdo in 1910 to Osaka in 1931 to New York and Tokyo in 1989.
Think Dickens or Tolstoy — but with yakuza and pinball parlours (more on that later).
Now the novel lands on screen — via an Apple TV+ adaptation that is high-budget, visually spectacular and features an impressive cast of famous names (including Oscar-winner Yuh-Jung Youn) and breakout stars.
Lee wasn’t involved in the adaptation — which has made some fans of the book nervous.
But reviews so far bode well, with the series being described as a “sumptuous South Korean epic like nothing else on TV” and “an elating tale of familial resilience and female strength.”