Tuesday 23 February 2021

Book Review: Pachinko by Lee Min-Jin (Historical Fiction)

Title: Pachinko
Author: Lee Min-Jin
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Library

Yeongdo, Korea 1911
A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man he barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story. 


I read Free Food for Millionaires a while back and only gave it 2.5 stars, finding the heroine annoying and the book generally too wordy. I therefore approached Pachinko somewhat tentatively. I needn't have worried, though, as Pachinko is an excellent work in every way. It is still a long-ish read, but it doesn't feel overwritten or slow. The characters and plot caught my attention right from the first chapter and held it until the end. Having previously read non-fiction works about Korean history and Korean-Japanese relations, I could often tell when things were about to go downhill, but that never spoilt my enjoyment of waiting to see exactly what would happen. I could definitely image this work as a film or K-drama. I had Park Sung-Woong clearly cast as Koh Hansu in my mind from the first moment the character appeared. All up this was an excellent book and one I could see myself rereading.

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