Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A beautiful reminder of why I want to read and write

Pachinko, a story about a family generation after generation, who try to live life navigating through hardships, war, poverty, racism and all the cruel things that the world had to offer during their respective times, but still managed to find and eventually lose love yet still pushed forward to do better, to give better.

To tell the storyline in a sentence, it’s a simple life story about Korean immigrants to Japan during dire times. But that’s not as simple, as this story touches lives of each and everyone in the family, their hardship, their love, their strength and eventually their weakness that just gets you pinned down until you read the last word in the book.

The journey of a family to find Home, a place or a person that they could belong with starts from Hoonie in Yengdo, Busan and Lee takes us from Korea to Japan in a span of few years and drags us to experience the ugliness of war, poverty and racism that she and her family has to go through in order to survive, to experience the lives of those who have been overlooked or cast aside in those cruel times. She made us realize through her words that every story during those times, no matter where was worth telling. 

As I kept reading the book, I couldn’t figure out why the book was named Pachinko. It didn’t have a significant role in the story except one of the characters working and eventually running a Pachinko parlor, but after finishing the story, it made me wonder, was the Pachinko a metaphor for the lives of the characters Lee created? Because each one of her characters made some kind of gamble to survive or to belong. It was either a gamble of getting married or moving to another country or choosing their education over their sense of self or making the choice of giving up eventually, they all made a gamble of some sorts. Which I think is more fitting title than anything else.

The beauty of the story as a whole is that there are no main characters in the story. They are all main characters, they all have a story to tell and I wanted to listen to each and every one of them.

A beautiful read if knowing about people interests you.  

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