Book Review: “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

pachinkoI expected I would like this book, based on all the praise that has been lavished upon it, and I can say that I was not disappointed. This sweeping, multi-generational epic follows a family beginning with their lives in Japanese occupied Korea and then into Japan itself, where they face rampant discrimination as refugees. The writing is plain but beautiful, and all of the characters, even those that are seemingly unimportant, are well sketched out. As a result, when they feel joy, you feel it with them, and when they experience heartbreak, so do you. Their lives are certainly no cakewalk, but they are filled with moments of exquisite beauty. The parallels to the way the Japanese treat this Korean family throughout the early-to-mid 20th century and the way many minorities are treated throughout the world today are no less powerful for how on-the-nose they might seem. The book also liberally spreads around themes of love and family, but perhaps the primary motif of the story is the love we both give to and receive from our mothers. The many sacrifices made by mothers throughout this book, and one in particular, are what really lend it its power, and what makes it one of the most beautiful and unforgettable stories I’ve read in a very long time. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell


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