A Book review: Pachinko by Min Jin lee
I’m a sucker for interesting, pretty, aesthetic covers. I judge a book by its cover, it’s true. My poor habit has drawn me to many disappointing stories, but sometimes, despite knowing better, I do actually stumble upon gems. Ms. Min Jin Lee, I’m very sorry. I’m a vain person, but I’d like to thank you sincerely for creating Pachinko. Here’s a review for anyone looking for a new novel or trying to get out of a book slump. This will certainly be your fix.
A New York Times Top Ten Book 2017 and National Book Award Finalist, Pachinko is a richly told story of four generations of a Korean family starting in the early 1900s. We follow the life of a young Sunja, adored by her crippled father and unwealthy mother. They live and work in their humble boarding house on a little island in a fishing village, called Yeongdo.
A naive love for a wealthy, older stranger in her hometown almost brings her world crashing down when Sunja is left pregnant and realizes her lover is already married. By luck, a young sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan offers to marry her and take her with him to Japan. We follow Sunja far from home and towards a foreign and strange country, accompanying her through her trials and achievements.
Richly told, Min Jin Lee’s story details a complex and painful history of occupied Korea and the harsh realities Koreans faced, living in Japan. Lee’s moving characters show us what forms love, sacrifice, and ambition can take. What I enjoyed most is the undeniable strength of her female characters who endure and carry the burdens of not only their own fears but those around them. A masterful illumination of untold history.