Saturday, 2 December 2017

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Book: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Pages: 496

Publisher: Apollo

Read On: Kindle via Kindle Unlimited

Plot Summary: Yeongdo, Korea 1911. 

In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. 
Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story. 
Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.

General Thoughts: This book kept showing up in my recommendations on Kindle Unlimited for days and I am so GLAD I read this book!!!!! Oh my GOD! This book is fantastic and I honestly cannot recommend it enough! It has generated quite a buzz and is getting rave reviews all over and it all so well deserved. You have got to read it! Seriously, READ IT NOW!

Now on to my review.

Things I Loved:

1. The writing was absolutely wonderful and a pleasure to read. I am blown away with the sheer scope of this book. There is so much within the pages of this book, so many lives and so many stories and spanning an eighty year period is no joke. I applaud the author's talent and dedication! It is brilliant and awe inspiring!

2. Family sagas have got to be my favourite kind books to read. There is nothing more interesting than following the lifespan of one family through the decades and seeing the course their life takes. I was completely enthralled by this narrative.

3. Sunja was a splendid character and from the beginning to end to see her life from her teenage years to her life as a grandmother and every chapter of her life is equally riveting and interesting. It is not without suffering and struggle, yet never does this book become overly melodramatic or over the top tragic that you can't stomach it. You can't help but connect with her and root for her and feel her pain. She was wonderfully written and etched out. She is wonderful yet she isn't perfect or flawless, she is entirely human and real.

4. This book talks about race and discrimination and colonialism in ways that I haven't read before. Of course, being Indian means I have read and heard and learnt countless stories of discrimination in my own land. But to hear about the fate of the Koreans under Japanese rule was eye opening and a whole other level of exploitation. To hear of the decimation of Korean culture at the hands of the Japanese was shocking and something I didn't know much about, I have since read up a lot about it. They destroyed art and sculptures and even banned Koreans learning their own language, they had to instead learn Japanese at school.
 I love books that teach me something new. Books that make me think and books that open my eyes to the suffering of people. This book taught me so many new things and has inspired me to learn more about this time period.

5. Another thing that the book etches out so well is the life and suffering of the Koreans living in Japan. The racial slurs and taunts and discrimination was a part and parcel of their life and yet they kept working and trying their best to live their life with as much dignity as they could muster. It was heart breaking and infuriating all at once. What Sunja and her family go through and continue to go through, even after liberation from Japan makes for very poignant reading.g

6. The idea of home is thoroughly and uniquely explored in this book. What is home? The place you belong from originally? Or the place that you've called home for most of your life? Even this place has treated you poorly. If you are always the other in this 'home' of yours. What is your home? And what about the home you left behind, what if that home in now unrecognisable? In this specific instance, the home you left behind is Korea but now that place has morphed into North Korea and completely different the world you had left behind. Do you go back? Or do you try to make Japan your new home? Really though provoking and interesting.

7. This book is just full of loveable, kind and good people. People living inherently sad lives yet people holding on their goodness. It made me so happy to find myself surrounded by these very likeable characters.

8. Even though Sunja is our main lead for most part, the book later delves into the life of her two sons and later on even her grandson. As much as I adored Sunja, I equally enjoyed these other stories and lives too. And there are so many stories in this book! It was a treat!

9. The women in this book was stellar! All of them. Sonja, her mother, her sister-in-law were all survivors. They manage home and male egos and racism and even make a name for themselves outside of home. I was cheering for them and hoping the best for them throughout the book.

10. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. It is easily one of the best books I've read all year and you know the great thing about this was, I wanted to keep reading and didn't want it to end and this is inspite of the book being nearly 500 pages long. I wanted more, so much more! I cannot recommend this book enough. It was a fantastic book!

Rating: 5/5

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