Book Review: Pachinko

Title: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature

Pages: 453

Level of difficulty: 4/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Sunja, the daughter in a loving family falls for a stranger often seen near the market in her hometown in Korea as a teenager. Their interaction leads to her pregnancy but unfortunately, she soon realises that she cannot marry him. She instead accepts a marriage proposal from a gentle, sickly minister and moves with him to Japan. This decision further unfolds in a breathtaking way through the generations.

Trigger warnings : Assault, Addiction and Suicide

Favourite Quote:

“Sunja had heard this sentiment from other women, that they must suffer—suffer as a girl, suffer as a wife, suffer as a mother—die suffering. Gosaeng—the word made her sick.”

Pg. 373

Review:

Pachinko follows the lives of several individuals in a family tree from before the Japanese occupation of Korea to way after the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are told the story from a bird’s eye view, where we see each character and learn about them from a third person’s perspective. However, the story was not difficult to follow at all. It was not only well written but highly moving too. I actually cried less than 50 pages into the novel.

On a whole, the story is about life, more specifically the lives of Korean immigrants in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea and long after the Cold War, and thus encompasses many themes. The author did a good job of highlighting how racism and discrimination limit people’s options and changes their lives drastically. Something that is sadly still prominent in today’s time. She was also brutally honest yet compassionate while portraying the lives of women throughout the history of which the story plays out.

However, something I was disappointed about was the lack of explanation for certain characters death. Then again, it might have been intentional to represent life and how we rarely get answers to a lot of painful experiences.

Despite the story’s slow pace, it was a page-turner!

I am Rosa Parks

There’ve been many before myself.
Brave women who decided they would not allow themselves
To be pushed around.
However, it is me
They call a heroine.
A term I do not deserve more the others.

‘That’s the lady who dared’

I hear my name in whispers around corners,
As people squeeze themselves in small cars,
And take long walks to workplaces and schools.

I have never felt more overwhelmed.
To see a community stand tall, strong and proud as one
regardless of colour?
Breathtaking.

There shouldn’t  be glory in standing up for oneself.
However, if it is what shall move the nation,
I shall gladly allow it.

For the right to speak one’s mind, should be a right for all.

The fire has been lit and it shall keep burning.
We shall not stop
Until we can all walk hand in hand, as one
And sit side by side, as one.

In remembrance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began on 1st December 1955 (-1956) after the arrest of Rosa Parks that very day.