Pachinko [Min Jin Lee]

Source: Brooklyn Public Library

Start Date: 2019-01-29

End Date: 2019-02-06

Goodreads link.

This was a deceptive book. For about a third of the way, it seemed like a James Michener saga, except with Korean immigrants to Japan – nice, comfortable, and something I would have been very impressed by twenty years ago, but not any more. Then suddenly, the first twist came; and raised the stakes – followed by tragedy after tragedy, but all beautifully expressed.

I had read Euny Hong’s The Birth of Korean Cool two years ago, and in that she wrote that the Korean psyche has a unique sense of suffering and betrayal brought about by Japanese colonisation, among other things. At that time I had been skeptical (less about the suffering and more about the uniqueness), but Pachinko reinforces that assertion – starting from the line that women are to suffer; and then delivering on it, but ensuring that the men suffer or are betrayed or taken advantage of no less than the women.

What a fantastic book, and what a great run of fiction I’m having in 2019.

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