Pachinko is a fantastic book, and you should drop everything and read it. Min Jin Lee’s book focuses on a Korean family who begins their journey in colonized Korea, moves to Japan, and spans all the way to 1989. As you may or may not know, a lot of major historical events happen in and between Korea and Japan during that time. Like with In the Land of the Long White Cloud, the author tackles issues of colonialism, family, race relations, love, children, and many others without shying away from the difficulties of these concepts.
I’m actually very happy that I read these books back to back because they do discuss similar issues but in wildly different geographic locations and cultures. Both deal with the cultural clash without putting one culture over another and allow the reader to open up their mind to different people and ideas. As a person, I feel like I got a lot out of both books. As a reader, I know I did.
Lee’s book is beautifully written. Her style can be jarring, but it is obviously deliberate. She spends long passages explaining a simple idea, like a kimchi restaurant, but will also abruptly state that someone is dead and move on to the next part of the story. That seems harsh, but while reading it, her message is clear: sometimes there are just not words to describe some events or feelings.
I found that I loved all of the characters, their dreams, and their flaws. It is almost impossible not to when you can tell how much the author loves them too.
Interestingly, I did not pick this book for Book of the Month Club. I was debating between two, sort of leaning towards the other without being able to decide, and decided to let my boyfriend choose instead. I gave him an idea of what the two were about from the descriptions; he said obviously Pachinko, and he was absolutely correct. If you only ever listen to one recommendation from me, listen to this one and pick this up. If you are a member of Book of the Month Club and didn’t pick this one for February, don’t forget that you can add it to March. If you’re not a member and want to check it out, click on the link and sign up. It’s my favorite book subscription I’ve tried, and I think you know how much I like trying different book subscriptions. Book selection is tomorrow. Woo!
I just want to say that I loved Pachinko one last time.