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  • Pachinko

  • By: Min Jin Lee
  • Narrated by: Allison Hiroto
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,140
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,664
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,652

Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • wonderful book

  • By erin on 12-11-17

Awkward and simple

2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-15-18

This novel portrays the pitfalls of an author writing a story in a setting she knows very little about, especially while covering such a vast timeframe. The book is awkward - numerous evidences of the author’s ignorance and insufficient research are scattered throughout the book - from, for example, the excessive and inappropriate usage of “ne” in speech combined with the omission of the Osaka dialect, a character’s choice of university (why not Doshisha, a Christian university of a similar standing as Waseda in the Kansai region, or even another closer, cheaper and better public university?), no reference to the policies of the GHQ (the occupation led by General MacArthur) and their interplay with the Korean conflict and the lives of zainichi (in Japan) Koreans after WWII, a character’s end (guns are extremely rare in Japan), no reference to the differences on views towards zainichi Koreans between the Kansai and Kanto regions, etc. and the more mundane descriptions such as reference to dowry (there exists no Japanese custom of bride or bride’s family giving money/assets to the husband’s family) and cooking in peanut oil (no peanut oil in traditional Japanese home cooking). The list continues. It seems the author relied excessively on assumptions and hence scattered inaccuracies all over (what did the editor do?). This is very unfortunate particularly because the story takes up a theme that should be told.

Other than such awkwardness, I felt the book had insufficient character development or rather, simple characters, and partly as a result, the story was simplistic. It lacked the complexity it could have had given the historic background of the time, the length of the story and the timeframe it covered, as well as its theme.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful