By Peter Craven
“Pachinko is a book that has the amplitude of the technique that is resolutely social realist but encompasses peasant women and bright boys in New York arguing about George Eliot. But Lee’s key to the whole sideshow is the Korean/Japanese relation. Pachinko insinuates itself as the Homer of this landscape, it arrogates to itself a right to present the life of the Korean who is dirt under Japanese feet, driven to the dark corners of dodginess in a context of ancient virtue and a diagrammatic simplicity of technique.
Pachinko is a massive attempt, full of subtlety and strategy, to universalise the Korean experience by showing it with its nose pressed to the glass of history. The novel it has most affinity with both in terms of deliberate populism and its very intelligent stab at a latter-day Tolstoyanism is Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. Both books slum their way towards the highest possible acclaim.”
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