Nov 2018 - Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Book Group 1 – November 2018


Pachinko is a story of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family’s fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew. Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.


So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity! - Grand Central Publishing.


Eleven of us met at Nazi’s beautiful home to discuss the book. The discussion was very animated and various aspects of the book were discussed in depth. We learnt a lot of the intricacies of the Japanese Korean relationship and what it means to be Korean, especially a Zainichi living in Japan! We saw how the love of each the characters for one another is tested by history and the forces of prejudice, discrimination, and disenfranchisement.

The overall feel was that as enjoyable as the book was, after the discussion our reading experienced was not enhanced. This is a very definitive change from the norm! The various gaps in the story seemed more pronounced after the discussion! Though we all agreed we would recommend the book going forward!


In case you aren’t aware, gambling is illegal in Japan, saying that Pachinko is a multi billion-dollar business there!


Nisha Dobberstein