Pachinko is written by Min Jin Lee who is a Korean-American Author, has been ranked as the 10 best books of 2017 from the New York Times. Normally I don’t read fiction books, this book actually is the first fiction book I read in 2017. I have deeply impressed and attracted by the story and the author’s excellent writing style.
I met Min Jin Lee from one of my company’s events, and lucky got her signed book for free. I wasn’t going to read the book since I don’t normally read fiction books and this book is around 490 pages which is too long for me as well, but after I started reading a few pages, I just couldn’t put down the book any more.
The novel covers one Korean family through 4 generations, beginning from early 1900s Korea with a poor boardinghouse owner family in Yeongdo district, in the South Korean city of Busan, they had four sons, but only Hoonie, who had a cleft palate and clubfoot, survived. Hoonie married and died shorthly thereafter leaving his wife and their prized only daughter Sunja. During the hard winter of 1932, Sunja unplanned pregnancy shame them all, refused to reveal the identity of the child’s father, a younger tubercular minster Baek Isak saved her by offering to marry and bring her to Osaka, Japan as his wife.
This novel is using World War II and atomic bomb drop at Nagasaki as the history events through the book. Japan were the family base for the next half-century or more, even though Koreans are treated as second-class citizens there. Isak and Sunja moved in with his brother and sister-in-law in a ghetto neighborhood in Osaka. They had two sons, Noa and Mozasu, but Isak and his fellow church members were arrested for insufficient devotion to the Emperor, and died at the second day after released from the prison. Sunja and her sister-in-law started selling homemade kimchi and black sugar candy for extra money.
As World War II closed to the end, Koh Hansu, Noa’s biological father, helped the family escaped the coming bombardment of Japan’s cities by moving and working at a sweet potato farm outside the countryside. After the war ended, they moved back to the city, later on Mozasu quit school and became a foreman at a Pachinko Parlor while Noa went to Wsada university in Tokyo.
Noa pretended to be Japanese and he committed suicide at 1978, but Mozasu became very rich business man by opening and operating Pachinko Parlo business on his own. The story is deep rooted by the members face enduring questions of faith, family and identity issues.
Lee started to speed up the novel at the Part III, jumped ahead several years with every chapter and moved from one drama occurrence to other, but I felt less of an emotional connection to the later chapters and also to this youngest generation. I enjoyed the most is the earlier part of the novel from when Sunja met with Hansu to Noa committed suicide.
I am highly recommended this novel to all the people like to read historical stories and family sagas. It’s really interesting and easy to read book. Please leave comments if you want to discuss about the book.