Where do I begin?
I had a major book hangover for about 2 days. I couldn’t get the characters, the story out of my head. While reading the book I was able to picture each and every scene and place. The characters had so much depth to them, each different from the other. Lee brought the characters to life, they seemed real and relatable. I felt so heavily invested while reading this book.
Pachinko is a family saga. The book takes place over four generations of Koreans. It begins with Hoonie, a cleft palate and cripple and begins in the year 1910. The story then moves on to his daughter Sunja, a beautiful, well-mannered girl. Sunja is the main protagonist of the book. Her getting pregnant at the hand of a Yakuza by the name Koh Hansu propels and the impact it has on her life. The rest of the book has her tied in as a central element and all the characters and lives revolving around her. How each life is intertwined with Sunja and the actions she takes and doesn’t take. There is so much love and affection you feel while you read the book. The characters are law-abiding and respectful Koreans.
The book also highlights the hatred the Koreans had to face at the hands of the Japanese. Be it in their own country or in Japan, the Koreans were treated as 2nd class citizens and had to fight their way for living everyday. Pachinko was another main feature in the book ( of course the name of the book gives it away). Pachinko parlor was a saving grace in this family’s life.
When I purchased the book back in September last year, I got really scared just looking at the size of the book. I had heard rave reviews and knew I needed the book, however I was very doubtful if I would complete the book or not.
I was so wrong!
The book though 531pages+ in size is an easy read. In fact I forced myself to read the book slowly, I managed to stretch to a week.
I didn’t know much about the Korea-Japan war until I read Pachinko. The conditions the Koreans lived in and the back to back lashes they had to face was so heartbreaking to read. Even years after the events, the fourth generation Koreans who live in Japan are still considered immigrants. On the 15th birthday they must go and get a certificate that decides their fate for the next three years. If rejected, they are immediately deported. Imagine having to leave the country you grew up in on your birthday. I can only imagine what they must have gone through.
There are very few books out there that make you wish the book never ends, this was one such book for me. When someone asks for a book suggestion, Pachinko is definitely on the list.
Do give this book a read, you won’t regret it.
Lots of love,