Pachinko is a family epic that follows a Korean family through four generations beginning in the early 1900s in a remote fishing town in their homeland. The unplanned pregnancy of daughter Sunja by a suave older married man threatens her and her mother's hard but steady life running a boardinghouse. To save the family from disgrace and ruin, a young minister on his way to meet up with his brother in Osaka offers to marry Sunja and take her to live in Japan. As her new family's life unfolds in their unknown home, the young Korean woman quickly learns that life in Japan will not be what she imagined.
Pachinko does a marvelous job shedding light on the discrimination and hardships faced by ethnic Koreans living in Japan during the early, mid, and even later 20th century. The history presented is fascinating, but this is ultimately a book about family and identity. Pachinko is recommended for patient readers interested character-driven family sagas. Learning about the historical dynamic of Koreans living in Japan is an added bonus of this long, but captivating novel.
Reviewed by so, 01/18. Other reviews by so.