My first book by this author and I really loved her writing. Here is my book review of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.
An epic story of the life of Sunja a young Korean teenager living on a tiny island off the coast of Busan, Korea. Pachinko chronicles her extraordinary life of survival.
In the early 1900’s Sujan is a beloved only child of two hard working parents. When her father dies Sujan and her mother run the local boarding house alone. But when a rich and smooth talking stranger gets Sujan pregnant life will never be the same. Shamed when her lover confesses to already being married, Sujan accepts a marraige proposal from a sickly minister who wants to save her from the shame. And thus begins the saga of her life as Isak’s wife, her love for her sun Noa from the other man, and the lifetime of regrets, hardships and coincidences.
Isak and Sunjan move to Osaka Japan, where Isak takes a position in a church. Here they will raise their family until Isak is arrested during a time where Korean’s were treated horribly and often thrown in jail or worse. Isak spends several years in jail and eventually will die.
Sunjan learns her former married lover has been watching out for her and her family and he helps them in ways she doesn’t even know to keep their heads above water during the terrible years of World War II. Eventually learning of his generosity Sujan wants nothing to do with him and to keep him away from both of her sons.
But secrets are hard to keep and eventually all the secrets tumble down to mix with the incredible racism towards Koreans by the Japanese, the economic situation during and following the war, and a general hard scrabble life Koreans endured in Japan.
This story will have you sobbing with sorrow, cheering for justice and holding out hope for this family, it’s numerous members and their love and faith and perseverance. Heartfelt and personal, Pachinko is a brilliant look into life in Japan for the thousands of Koreans who immigrated there and their descendants. And Sujan is a heroine to respect.
*****Five stars for Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
My current read Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
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