book review

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pachinko is an epic novel/multigenerational tale that follows four generations of a Korean family who move to Japan.

I found this book fascinating. It was brilliantly written, simple in a way that makes you know it was anything but. The characterisation is rich and detailed – by the end of the novel, I felt like I knew the characters so well that I was sad to say goodbye to them. I shed a little tear during the last chapter of this book.

One of the things that I think is done particularly well is that this is quite a long novel, but it never felt like it dragged or was repetitive. It was always moving, through time and from character to character. Lee manages to seamlessly switch her third person close narration from one character to another – in a way that means that we get to know so many characters, but it isn’t jarring or difficult.

This novel tells two stories here: it is a historical novel that highlights the relationship between Korean and Japan, and the way that Koreans were treated in Japan (a lot of which was shamefully completely new information for me!) and it also a family saga that focuses on the personal lives and fates of one family. I thought the two elements of the story really worked well together and it managed to be educational while making me feel deeply connected to this particular family.

Pachinko is a beautiful novel. I adored it and I’m still thinking it about it weeks later (… I’m very behind on my reviews) – it has absolutely blown me away. I recommend this to everyone – please go out and buy it and enjoy it!

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