Monday, 30 April 2018

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“No one is clean. Living makes you dirty.”

This epic tale of a Korean family accompanied me on my holiday. In fact, much of it was enjoyed on a sundrenched beach lounger which seemed poles apart from the enormous struggles of its characters. It does seem rather wrong to be reading about starving refugees when drinking cocktails, perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen the quote above.

If you love a multi-generational historical saga this one is definitely going to keep you turning those pages. The characters are beautifully drawn, despite the breadth of time covered and the number of them. You may find your eyes dampen with emotion as you are drawn into unfamiliar worlds, only to realise how similar familial binds are no matter where you hail from. It is strange to be able to relate so palpably to characters from such foreign lands and historical periods and yet that is exactly what you get here. Much of the story reminded me of my own grandparents’ stories of crossing oceans and re-inventing their lives in a foreign place – something that countless people whether due to war, economic opportunity or choice, do every day.

There is a reason this novel was chosen as one of the New York Public Library’s (my pictures below) 10 best of 2017 and holds a place on the ALA’s 2018 Notable Books List.


I’m very excited to note that the author will be appearing at the Sydney Writer’s Festival and I’ll be attending her session on the novel next week. The opportunity to hear more about the novel’s underpinnings direct from the author has me counting the days!


5 out of 5, life is a journey of turbulent seas.

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