• Maya

The Game of Life: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Fans of epic sagas, as well as Asian history may find this a captivating read.

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko

Sanju, a young Korean woman, is swept into a romance with Hansu, a handsome traveller and becomes pregnant. When she tells him during one of his visits, he confesses that he is married with children, but promises to take care of her. She rejects his offer. Meanwhile, she and her mother, who run an inn, have taken in a pastor named Isak. He falls ill and they nurse him back to health. To repay their kindness, the pastor offers to marry Sanju, give her baby a name and take care of them. Sanju leaves with Isak and the two travel to Japan, where Isak will live with his brother and his wife. TImes are difficult in Japan, where Koreans are mistrusted and mistreated. Sanju falls on hard times, struggling to make a better life for her two children. She is once again rescued by the handsome, and now even more powerful, Hansu. 

Set in 1900s Japan, this multi-generational family saga provided an in-depth look at the Korean and Japanese prejudice, as well as life in Korea and Japan. The cultural aspects were deftly woven into an engrossing story filled with richly developed characters. The writing is very succinct yet still maintains a descriptive quality that is very atmospheric.

The title refers to a Japanese game, similar to the slot machines, that is a real draw in Japan -- even today.

I am usually intimidated by hefty books, but this one, clocking in at 496 pages, was easy to get through - although, I did struggle with keeping all the names at first. Now, that I have tackled this, I have hope that I could get through The Goldfinch . . . 

If this book title interests you, you might also like these books about Asian cultures:

A Detective in Laos: The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot by Colin Cotterill:


Must I Go by Yiyun Li:


The Case of The Missing Detective by Tarquin Hall


3 views0 comments
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

©2020 by Turquoise Maya LLC. Photographs and art work, except book jackets in the reviews, are used with the permission of the creator or are the property of Turquoise Maya LLC. This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented here are the owner's personal expressions, do not represent those of others and are free to change. These contemplations and expressions are not intended to malign any individuals, groups or collectives of any race, gender or religion. This blog is purely for informational and entertainment purposes and the owner claims no liability for losses, injuries or negative outcomes from the display or use of this information. Comments are welcome, however the blog owner reserves the right to edit or delete comments submitted to this blog without notice if they are deemed to be inappropriate, offensive or questionable. The blog owner is not responsible for content in the comments. This blog disclaimer is subject to change without notice.