Pachinko — Min Jin Lee

(pub. 2017)
The game of pachinko is lit­tle like pin­ball and lit­tle like a slot machine. You don’t need to know much more about the game oth­er than to under­stand that the machines are manip­u­lat­ed in much the same way the slot machines are pro­grammed. To favor the house at all times but to allow enough win­ning to make the thing addic­tive. There is always hope.

- a slight hope but hope none the less and that is the les­son that the char­ac­ters have to take away.
The main char­ac­ter in Pachinko, Sunja, is a won­der­ful woman, the sort you’d like have as a friend. What starts as a dis­as­ter (out-of-wedlock preg­nan­cy) turns into a saga of life in a for­eign land and a deep only slight­ly sen­ti­men­tal explo­ration of the love of a moth­er for her sons. (and grand­son.) The sto­ry spans near­ly a cen­tu­ry and con­tain­ing a huge cast of char­ac­ters (4 gen­er­a­tions) all relat­ed to Sunja.
Though out the sto­ry we see her devo­tion to her chil­dren and her rela­tion­ships with the fathers of her sons, the shad­owy pres­ence at all times of the father of her old­est son — a yakuza boss, and the gen­tle real­i­ty of man she mar­ried and the father of her younger son — a slight, sick­ly preach­er. The pachinko par­lors that were the source of wealth for many Koreans and the prej­u­dice of the Japanese against eth­ic Koreans even after years of assim­i­la­tion all come togeth­er to shape the lives of the characters.

* sagas can be love­ly if the author brings you to love the families *