Pachinko is a soul-stirring family saga of Korean immigrant family in Japan written by a Korean-American writer Min Jin Lee. Spanning over eight decades, the enthralling stories of various characters from four generations are told.
Told in a third-person omniscient narrative, the novel comprises three main parts: Book 1 tells the story of Sunja and Book 2 tells the lives of her two sons whereas in Book 3, her grandson story is told and it concludes with Sunja’s reflective thoughts on her life and the choices she made. The central character Sunja is a poor teenage girl from an island in Korea who fells for a wealthy stranger. When she gets pregnant with his child and found out he was married, she was saved from her predicament by a guest of her house. In order to avoid her family from disgrace, she has to leave to Japan with the guest and it leads to a life she has never imagined.
The story depicts the highly discriminated life of Koreans migrated to Japan. It also tells the Korean kids being bullied at school and the adult being treated with injustice. In the novel, the various parent-child relationships are presented, as well. In different time and generations, the struggle of one’s identity under extreme discrimination is told poignantly. Another interesting aspect of this book is the exploration of how one person deals when it comes to choose between survival and morality or tradition. Many of the characters face such dilemma throughout the generations.
My inept recount won’t do justice to this staggeringly magnificent story. It’s been some time I haven’t read a terrific family saga like this. MJL’s brilliant storytelling brings in multiple things to contemplate for the readers. Many vivid characters are colourfully and intricately yet elegantly interwoven with the multiple captivating stories.
Apart from a few untold stories of the characters I wanted to know more, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was phenomenally moving and bittersweet. The book is National Book Award finalist for fiction in 2017 and now in process of adaptation to series for AppleTV.