Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Image belongs to Grand Central Publishing.

Min Jin Lee is the award-winning author of Free Food for Millionaires. Her newest novel is Pachinko.

Sunja is the daughter of a desperately poor Korean family in the early 1900s. To her mother’s shame, she ends up pregnant and unmarried:  Sunja didn’t know the father was already married, and walked away from him when she found out. A young minister offers to marry her, and they move to Japan before the baby is born.

Pachinko follows the life of the family as they live as Koreans in Japan. Ostracized and despised, the family struggles to find hope and success amidst prejudice and poverty. Forever despised because of their ethnicity, Sunja’s family retains their pride despite the obstacles they face.

Pachinko is not an easy book to read. The tales of the war and the havoc it wreaked in Japan are horrible, but so are the atrocities faced by Koreans living in Japan during the time, some of who were actually born in Japan but are still identified as Korean and discriminated against. The writing is a vivid description of the poverty-filled life faced by Sunja and her family, but also a moving description of love and strength beyond imagining. I highly recommend this.

(Galley provided by Grand Central Publishing.)

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