After two days of skipping out on my devotion to Women’s History Month, I’ve decided to return with an entry about the deeply moving novel I just finished and its’ brilliant author. Pachinko was my February Book of the Month Club selection, and I’m patting myself on the back for picking this baby out! There are very few books I’ve been as grateful to receive in the mail, and I can tell you I will recommend this book to every single one of my friends.
Pachinko is the kind of novel that increases one’s awareness of others, teaches the reader a little about history, and a lot about another culture while distracting the reader with a beautifully crafted story. I am loath to admit that before I read this novel I was ignorant about Korea. I knew very little about the country, its’ history and its’ culture. Through the story of the Baek family, a family of Korean immigrants that moves to Japan during the Japanese colonization of Korea, I was able to glean a little of the country’s history. The characters are so vivid, you feel like they are members of your own family. Each of their sacrifices are haunting, and reading their saga will leave you changed. From the very first line of the novel the reader is hooked, and is instantly presented with characters that they care for deeply, a dazzling portrayal of a complex world and a profoundly moving story.
History has failed us, but no matter.
Even more impressive than this astonishing novel, is the woman who wrote it, Min Jin Lee. Her only other novel Free Food for Millionaires was also a national bestseller. She is a graduate of Yale University and the Georgetown College School of Law. The list of prizes and awards Lee has won for her writing is a mile long and includes the NYFA Fellowship for Fiction, The Peden Prize from The Missouri Review for Best Story, and the Narrative Prize for New and Emerging Writer. Equally as long is the list of magazines, news papers, and anthologies that have featured both her fiction and her non-fiction writing. Although Lee lives in New York with her family, she lived in Tokyo between 2007-2011 while she was writing Pachinko. I know that I’ve added Free Food for Millionaires to my ever-expanding reading list, and I can’t wait to read her next novel!