Min Jin Lee “Pachinko”

This might easily be one of the best fiction books written based on Korean and Japanese history. The plot views objectively characters from the narrator’s viewpoints and delves much deeper into their lives in pre-and post-war Japan/Korea during the 20th century. What made everything fit so perfectly together was the humane depiction of people. Life is often full of hardships and unexpected events.This book describes everyday life as it could have been for Korean living in Japan. Stereotypes, hatred against foreigners and prejudices were common during that time.
The main protagonist is Sunja, a Korean girl who gets pregnant by a wealthy man and then in turn, instead of getting married, gets reduced to a mere mistress. Not tolerating the injustice and embarrassment she embarks on a journey to Japan with a kind-hearted minister Baek Isak who shares affectionate feelings for her. In Japan (Osaka to be exact) she gives birth to her first child and later on to Isak’s child, all the while seeing and experiencing how people regard Koreans. Later the story concentrates on her children who as second generation immigrants learn to make a living and a name for themselves.  
“What should a Korean living in Japan do when her mother country sees the war refugees as traitors and the Japanese government treats the people caught in the middle as immigrants or even tourists?” is continuously left for the reader to answer.
Overall this book is easy to follow, contains heartbreaking events and is enjoyable to read regardless of age or background.

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Check from the e-catalogue ESTER


Birgit Kirsipuu
Sääse branch library

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