Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Title: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Context: Pachinko (2017) is a historical fiction novel by the Korean-American author Min Jin Lee is set in Japan in the early 1900s. Pachinko is a rich story of experiences of the immigrant presents; an immersive, vivid and multigenerational tale about the kind of life the Koreans experience in Japan. It is a story of saddening emotional conflict and pliability.

Synopsis: The story is about Sunja, the lovable teenage daughter of a club-footed, cleft-lipped crippled fisherman named Hoonie. Hoonie marries a 15 year old mild girl named Yangjin. Their first 3 babies die but Sunja the fourth one survives and blossoms beautifully in her adolescent years. She falls in love with a sharp-suited rich stranger near her home at the seashore in Korea. He assures her that he will keep her happy and give her everything she needs. However, one day she finds out that she is pregnant and this lover is already married. She refuses marriage with him and instead accepts a marriage offer from a sickly and gentle minister who is passing through Korea on his way to Japan. A dramatic tale is set off, which is guaranteed to echo down through generations to come when she decides to leave her home and not accept this powerful father of her son. The family migrates to Japan eventually.

Pachinko is an intensely moving and richly told tale about love, loyalty, ambition and sacrifice. Right from the busy streets in the markets to the halls of the best universities in Japan to the Pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, the passionate and complex characters, the stubborn and powerful women, the devoted sons and sisters, the fathers shaken by moral catastrophes, all of them show their strongest survival against the mediocre arc of history.

Other works by the Author:

2004 – Axis of Happiness

2004 – Motherland

2007 – Free Food for Millionaires