Book Review – Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

After a very long time I read a book that affected me in such profound fashion . It’s a beautiful book . The subject is an engrossing tale of 4 generations of Korean immigrants in Japan . The title is an apt metaphor for the lives of the characters . The book is about how the characters in the book are forced by circumstance to take chance after chance in life . That is the only option they are left with . The author , Min Jin Lee has done a commendable job in bringing out the difficult life of immigrants & their struggles against dogma, parochialism, discrimination and political disenfranchisement . A very well-written account of historical fiction .

The story revolves around Sunja who is the main character in the book . She lives with her mother on a coastal island . She falls in love with an influential , already married Korean-Japanese businessman and has a child out of wedlock . In the deeply conservative & patriarchal Korean society , this is a ruinous fate . To escape the disgrace , Sunja is grateful and agrees when a sickly boarder, Isak, on his way to Japan offers to marry her . And so the author builds a fascinating tale of immigrant life against the backdrop of WW-2. The phenomenal detailing of the minutiae of everyday life  transports the reader effortlessly to a different time and place .


There are many  characters in the book and are well developed too . Sunja is my favorite of course .I can’t help but marvel how  the doughty women hold the family together  in the face of innumerable hardships and profound antipathy .

The internal conflicts of identity, nationality, culture depicted here I sa microcosm of the external turmoil of the WW-2times .It’s a poignant tale spawning generations ,a tale of resilience, of rejection ,of heart breaking emotional conflicts and yet of the tenacity of the human spirit that refuses to be beaten down.

I would recommend this book to all ..Pls discount the fact that I do have a bias towards strong female protagonists and well-written historical fiction :)


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