Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
Families, Korea, domestic fiction, family life, cultural, heritage, historical, fiction.
Starting with Sunja, the daughter of a crippled fisherman and his wife, she is young and falls in love with a wealthy man. Later she finds out she’s pregnant and he is the father of her unborn child. However, he doesn’t want to marry her because he is already married and with three daughters in Japan. He tries to make right of the situation by offering her a house and funds. She rejects his offer and tells him to go away. While working with her mother at the boarding house, there is a sickly minister who is thankful for Sunja and her mother for caring for him. He asks the mother about Sunja and she tells him she’s pregnant but the father doesn’t want to be involved. Isak offered to marry her and give the child a name. Sunja takes the offer and both get married then leave Korea for Japan. Sunja and Isak stay at his brother’s place and her sister in law takes care of Sunja. When the baby is born, he is named Noa.
Years later Sunja and Isak have their second child, Mozasu, when he ends up in prison thus making life much more difficult for his brother to supply for his wife and his sister in law. He has to make sure that there is enough food on the table and enough money to send both children to school. Noa is happy and content with his life and wants to further his education whereas his brother doesn’t want to further his education. When news of Americans going to bomb Japan’s Nagasaki, they flee where they live into the country with a family who hosts them. They return back to the city and go on with their lives. They all wish that they can go back home to their original country of Korea but life goes on for them and they have to be content that they are alive and healthy.
I had seen and heard about this book for the longest time. I was hesitant to read because I typically don’t read historical fiction. I regret not reading this novel much sooner and I am blown away by the beauty of this novel. This novel took me on a journey through history around the time of 1900 to about 1989ish. Between those years were World War I, World War II, and the Korean War that this family, that was told in four generations, had witnessed over time. Not only that but they were going through their own experiences and trying to survive life that was not safe for them. I really loved the storytelling because this is a different perspective on history through the eyes of those who were deeply impacted by the wars and colonization. Not only that but discriminated against. This novel doesn’t just have discrimination from adults to adults but in the parts that were talking about the children of Sunji in school they too were discriminated against by other children. Discrimination in all types and forms is extremely harmful and mean. I found that this novel was beautifully written. Overall, I really love this novel and the writing is beautiful and I had such a time reading this novel of different feelings and emotions. I deeply recommend this book in any format. Just know it is a very lengthy book but this is worth the read.