Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a fictional family saga about Koreans living in Japan during and after World War Two. It is almost 500 pages in length and took me weeks to read.

The tale involves a young Korean girl named Sunja who becomes pregnant after being seduced by a married man from Japan. Not wishing to shame her family, Sunja accepts a marriage proposal from a border in her parents lodging house who is a kind-hearted minister. After their marriage, they move from Korea to Japan to live with his brother and his wife. The better life they anticipated there turns out to be one of poverty, suffering, and prejudice because Koreans are looked down upon by the Japanese who are occupying Korea at the time. The story continues for two generations. Each generation strives to cope with the oppression under which they live by different means.

I think this historical fiction has merit because it sheds light on a place, time, and circumstance which I knew little about. The book kept my interest up until the very end which disappointed me. Words and phrases throughout the book in Korean and Japanese left me baffled. This is a tragic story of a proud family which I liked because of its historic significance.

About dianeledet

Professional Writing Consultant, Graduate of DePaul University School for New Learning 2008
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