Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I chose this one for our latest kpop book club book because I wanted something historical and this one got rave reviews and was a finalist in the National Book Awards and etc. I wanted something a bit more farther back historically, but this one was interesting nonetheless.

It follows a Korean family from 1910 to 1989... starting with the Japanese occupation of Korea, through WWII and on to modern (ish) days. The main character is Sunja, who is born in Korea on an island just off the coast from Busan. Her dad dies when she is young and her and her mom run a quite successful boarding house. She ends up marrying one of the guys who boards there and they move to Japan to live with his brother and wife.

It was very hard to be a Korean living in Japan, which is the main theme of this book. It was hard then and it's hard now. And all of her family who was born there, her kids and their kids... are Korean ethnically, but basically Japanese, yet they truly have no country they can claim. It sounds like such craziness for them!

Anyway, we follow her story through all the the years. She had two boys and we see what happens to them. One of them ends up in the pachinko business (thus the name of the book) and I had to actually look it up on YouTube so I could visualize what a pachinko machine looks like. Vertical pinball basically. Loud and colorful. And you can win... a little with skill a little with chance. And then turn your prizes in for money... off site. I guess it's HUGE in Japan and makes a ton more money and rich people than everything going on Las Vegas.

So it's a great family sage, the type of which I love and haven't read for a long time. So I loved it. Became very attached to all the characters and either rejoiced or yelled at their choices. One of them I had to shut the book for  minute and go... ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? WHY WHY WHY???

It's about family (and found family), and relationships and identity, Korean culture and Japanese culture, and hard work and love and struggles and life and death. So yeah, it's good! I'm so glad to have sort of randomly added this to my books read this year!

Stay tuned to find out what's up next for the kpop book club!

1 comment:

  1. I've heard really good things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it!



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