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!

Pen VS Bullets

A timely piece with all the political and military tension all over the world. 

In response to Sidney Keyes’s “War Poet”

“War Poet” is a simple poem I believe Sidney Keyes used to show that he was not meant for the battle field and that it wasn’t his decision to be on it. I believe it is also his interpretation of what happens when War and Poetry mix together- the risk of insanity and thus his wasted potential. “Pen VS Bullets” plays with the two possible decisions Sidney could have made along with the difficulties of both decisions to  bring to light the struggles of war.

All my life, my pen has been my protector.

I wasn’t one who knew how to use anything else nor believed anything could defend me better than words –which I used as an armour.

So, imagine the confusion I felt when someone had used a pen to uproot the lives of others, forgoing it as a protector.

Trust upon me was the decision to be like all men my age, dawn on courage for the sake of my country, the future of its people and ultimately peace.

Trust upon me was the fact that such a decision could lead to my death and hence the death of a man for a cause he did not wholeheartedly believe in, or better still in which its solution, he did not wholeheartedly believe in.

Trust upon me was years of rehabilitation, the possibility of insanity and thus lost potential.

Yet on the other side,

Present was the decision to abandon my country when she and my people needed me most.

Present was the opportunity to grow as a writer but the threat of insanity from the guilt that would come knocking on my doors.

Will my pen see me through the end of this dilemma?