Becky Spratford's Reviews > Pachinko

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
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it was amazing

It’s most of the 20th century told through one family of Koreans who live in Japan. I love this kind of book in general [Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay by Chabon is an example] but the addition of seeing the century through a completely different lens was fascinating. All of the same big events but from the other side of the world.

Racial, ethnic, and citizenship issues were also key here. This whole idea of what makes someone Korean or Japanese or American. The ways the different people saw themselves in their identities was fascinating. The rules that apply to Koreans as they live and work in Japan, even if they were born there was eye opening. Other issues that are explored, women's place in society and their sexuality, LGBTQ issues, and class issues.

The characters are many here and their relationships to each other are key to everything that happens. This is simply a book about life for a specific group of people during the 20th century. So many of the characters get a chance to tell their story, so we the reader have a very detailed picture of each character [even seemingly minor ones] both form their own perspectives and the perspectives of others. We know more about them than the characters know about each other.

Audio was fantastic. I alway listen to books set in foreign countries because I want to know how things should be pronounced and in my head I am terrible at it. I also especially like sagas- books that sweep across an entire century in audio.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Compelling, character centered, saga

Easily on of my favorite books I read this year. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm not a re-reader but I would read it again. I already miss my friends I made while reading this book.

Readalikes: Any sweeping saga with a specific sense of place would work here. Also any saga where the relationship between the characters and their relationship to their place are key. I mentioned the Chabon above. But also, Pillars of the Earth [review:] and Homegoing [review:] Even the SF saga which tackles many of the same issues-- Seveneves would work review:].

Ha, I just noticed, I listened to all 3 of those books too. Interesting.

I also just finished THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko [also on audio]. Although Ko's novel is set now, I think it pairs well with Lee's as both contemplate identity, immigrants, and where you are accepted or feel like you belong. Both deal with where you are born not always corresponding to your identity. Interesting.
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Reading Progress

June 14, 2018 – Started Reading
June 14, 2018 – Shelved
July 14, 2018 – Finished Reading

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