The library makes so many books so very accessible for the low low cost of my tax dollars and I love it. Honestly, without it, I would probably stay safely in my niche, but because I have this access, I am exploring so many adventures and stories I would have only maybe heard of. Love your library, folks.
Pachinko is a grand generational story, spanning decades and countries, following a single family from the once-united Korean peninsula to Japan. It took me into a history and a tension I understood existed but had never sought to learn more of. And there is a beautiful bareness to the story. Coming off back-to-back genre fiction, I really noticed and appreciated this vacation from sprawling flowery prose.
Lee has a very human-size story to tell. There are no cameos from historical figures and, despite spending an extended period in Japan in the 1940s, World War II is largely something that happens to other people (but not completely). It felt humble, in a way, it was a story about people, not legends. There is tragedy and hardship, and the characters bear through it with varying degrees of success, like … humans. The story is told very frankly, without pretension or inflation. It maybe wasn’t always all-consuming, but neither are our lives, even if you only focus on the hot spots.
The gist is, it follows a Korean family starting in the early 20th century, as they slide up and down the economic scale and cross the sea to Japan. The story chronicles the lives of Koreans living in Japan at this time and the regular traumas and prejudices they faced and grew to take as normal. It tells of diverging attitudes on gender roles and how men and women relate in private and in public. I liked it. I hope I run across someone else who read it so we can talk about it.