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Monthly Pick > Jan 2018: Pachinko

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message 1: by Reera, Bookmaster (new)

Reera | 258 comments Mod
Happy New Year, everyone! We're starting off 2018 with Min Jin Lee's critically acclaimed novel Pachinko . As always, we strongly encourage people to share their thoughts on the book here in the forums. We really enjoy reading everyone's comments. :)


message 2: by Syeda (new)

Syeda Umar | 1 comments I finished Pachinko in a 72 hours. I didn't want to pause the audiobook I purchased, but I had to get sleep and go to class. I enjoyed how the four generations of the Baek/Bando family were introduced. When new characters were added into the story it felt like a relay race. As if the previous main character passed the baton to the next character for them to continue the story.

Family and internal shame were common motifs within the story. I only had minimal knowledge about Japan's occupation of Korea and the treatment of Korean people in Japan during the time period the book was set in. Min Jin Lee does a great job of providing historical information through the character's actions, thoughts, and dialogue. There are certain topics that are a bit more implicit (i.e. comfort women and the unknown fates of certain female characters). It was amazing to see Sunja's development throughout the text because of how gradual it was.

I felt connected with the Zainichi or ethnic Koreans living in Japan because feeling and being treated like an outsider in the only country you've ever been able to call home is something I know all too well.


message 3: by David (new)

David (daejin) | 15 comments Excited to see this as January's pick - my hands down, unequivocal, favourite read of 2017! If you're feeling intimidated by the sheer heft of the book don't. If anything I wished it was longer and I felt it swept through the last generation too quickly. It just dropped a bombshell, dusted its hands and moved right along.

4 generations, spanning nearly a century of time focused on the 2.4 million Koreans living in Japan. Called Zainichi these ethnic Koreans are a people without a country. Stateless citizens registered to Chosun or a unified Korea (which hasn't existed since before the Korean War) They are seen as second class citizens, are shut out from certain jobs, and have to try and live a life that straddles two worlds that don't necessarily want them.

With DACA, immigration reforms, travel bans and the dog whistle politics that harken to a darker more segregated time in the United States - this book feels especially timely.

But it's also a sweeping, all the feels, emotional story. Not to mention a carefully constructed literary achievement and it never dragged. I know I'm setting unrealistic expectations here but even if you feel like you can't start and finish this before the month's end you owe it to yourself to tackle this one eventually. Put it on the TBR and check it out. So Good!!

I reviewed the book over on my channel and talked a little about Korean animosity towards Japan as well https://youtu.be/zsZxWaG75Ig (Korean museums do not mess around!)


message 4: by Akylina (new)

Akylina | 1 comments I finished Pachinko a couple of days ago and I still feel unable to articulate my thoughts about it. From what I had heard before picking it up, I knew I was probably going to like it and I felt very excited because I had never read anything about Koreans in Japan before. From page 1 I just couldn't put it down. I utterly adored this book. It was so moving and heartbreaking and raw andreal and I think it's the best book I've read in the last couple of years.

I loved how the author tackled such sensitive topics about race and migration and poverty and identity without sounding preachy or overly bitter. I loved most of the main characters and while I'm not usually into family sagas, I really felt like I was growing up alongside them and their concerns became my concerns.

(view spoiler)

Although it's a long book, I just wish it was even longer. Excellent, excellent book.


message 5: by Jess (last edited Jan 21, 2018 02:32PM) (new)

Jess (jbagsy) | 24 comments I really enjoyed this and learned a lot while reading. I don't have much to add without repeating what others have said, so I guess I just had a question. What did you think of the motif of [honorable] suicide and/or seppuku in the book? There were several lines in the book that essentially stated it was thought to be more honorable to die at one's own hand than [be captured, be attacked, etc. etc.] (view spoiler) Do you think suicide was an intentional theme? Or it just reflects people's mindset in that setting, geographically and historically? I don't know much about Japanese or Korean culture (as I said, I was learning as I was reading), so if someone has more knowledge and context, please share!


message 6: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Meng (resareviews) | 30 comments I absolutely loved this book! I finished the book a few months ago and was top 3 books of 2017 for me. I wrote a pretty lengthy reflection https://resareads.wordpress.com/2017/...


message 7: by Nicola (new)

Nicola  (violetsugarheart) | 17 comments I'm so behind on this (so busy!) but am enjoying what I've read so far. Looking forward to hearing the podcast :)


message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie (3x5books) | 29 comments It was one of my absolute favorite books of 2017 and I can't wait to hear the discussion!


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