This book made me feel equal measures of shame, astonishment, and respect.
I’ve learned snippets of Korean history throughout my life, but I was never aware of the full extent of suffering they went through.
Pachinko helped wake me up.
After I turned the last page, I felt numb. That’s what happens to me when I read stories that really peel back the layers of human society and history and loudly announce, “learn this NOW, feel these emotions NOW, and NEVER forget.”
From a story-telling point of view, this book was almost perfect. I really enjoy generational stories. Moving through a family’s experiences and growth is something else. I just felt like there was no true climax or ending…but I guess that’s intentional. True generational stories are just that – they keep moving forward, and never actually end. There are multiple moments of rising action and climaxes that consistently take place, which takes away the need for that ultimate moment of closure.
The narrative reads bluntly. It’s not framed richly. It’s not laced with pretty words or lengthy descriptions. It hands you the facts with a cool tone. It’s a confident voice that can successfully tell a story in this way, and Min Jin Lee nails it. She doesn’t get in the way of the characters. As someone who loves intricate description, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book because of its direct voice. But I loved it. Every single bit of it.