Review of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee review – rich story of the immigrant experience

In the latter stages of Korean-American author Min Jin Lee’s patient, sprawling story of a Korean family in Japan, Nobuo Ban, one of the novel’s principal characters, allows himself a moment of reflection. He is living a “small, invisible life” in Nagano, Japan, in 1969 – a modest but respectable middle-class existence, with a wife and four children and a job as a manager of a gambling joint where customers play the pachinko machines that lend the novel its title. But Nobuo’s unchanging routine and determinedly detached manner hide a terrible secret that plagues him daily: he is not, in fact, Japanese, but Korean – born Noa Baek, the son of poor immigrants despised by the rest of Japanese society. His failure to commit himself emotionally to his wife is at odds with the totality of his dedication to Japanese language, culture and manners, and betrays not just a deep-seated fear of being unmasked but an acceptance of the impossibility of equality or redemption. “Though he valued his wife and children as a kind of second chance, in no way did he see his current life as a rebirth.”

Noa’s predicament is a terrifying embodiment of the anxieties of Koreans in Japan – he stands to lose his family and job if his true identity is revealed – and indeed of immigrants in general. His desire to assimilate is constantly tempered by the fear of rejection, a tension that works its way into virtually every scene in the novel.

Read further @ The Guardian

Advertisements

~ by eneryvibes on 1,April 15, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: