*Contains no plot spoilers.
Pachinko is a family saga about Korean migrants living in Japan against the backdrop of the unheaval of the 20th Century. The novel traces struggles, triumphs and colourful personalities of several generations of one family. It rockets along at an amazing pace and doesn’t let up. This is a book to curl up with a relish over a weekend. It packs an enormous emotional punch and was incredibly satisfying. I enjoyed this book more than any other fiction I have read for many years.
Pachinko is full of melancholy, joy, emotion and humanness. The Korean characters in this novel who are living in Japan carve out a meagre existence for themselves and face extreme racism every day in Japan. This is something that many westerners wouldn’t know about Japan, is that it can be a very elitist and exclusive culture that doesn’t really open up to foreigners who live there. It’s almost like seeing the dark side of Japan I didn’t know existed.
This is the kind of book that makes you cry with joy, compassion and sadness all at once. This is a very big novel and one that deserves to be read, especially if you are a Japanophile, weeb or lover of Japanese culture. You might conclude that the Japanese don’t treat Koreans very nicely. Then again, every culture has its dark and nasty side. This novel Pachinko uncovers this for all to see, along with the shared beautiful humanity of people who undergo intergenerational struggle and trying to find their individual way in the world.