PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee: A Review

This 2017 publication was described on the cover by one blurb-writer as, “a big beautiful book filled with characters I cared about and remembered after I’d read the final page.” My sentiments exactly! When I read, what I appreciate most is characterization, and Sunja, Isak, Joseb, and Kyunghee became very important, well-drawn people as I read the novel.

Pachinko is a gambling game played in pachinko parlors.

Coming from a poor, but proud Korean family, young Sunja meets Hansu, an older, very rich, mysterious man. He lives and does business in Japan, where Sunja and Isak, a Presbyterian minister who saved her from disgrace, end up as well. Throughout the novel, the author describes how the Japanese look down on the resident Koreans.

Lee is a gifted storyteller,who gracefully tells of the “harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty the main characters endure. Pachinko is a story of women’s friendship, the pursuit of joy, and the history of an ancient national conflict. It opens in the early 1900s and journeys through generations of Korean history.

This is in line for my “Best Read of 2021.”

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

5 thoughts on “PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee: A Review”

  1. Wonderful review Rae. I put this on my TBR when it first came out, then took it off, but I am now putting it back one. This sounds like a wonderful historical fiction story with great, well-drawn characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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