Listening to Cesaria Evora Live d'Amour.
Painting this year's Christmas cards:
Pachinko is the story of a family of Koreans during the Japanese occupation of their country, how they struggled to survive and eventually got through to the other side of the war (although not everyone did). It is a profound and powerful record of history from a little regarded perspective, the Korean.
While Westerners may lump Asians together, they have distinctive cultures, languages and their own opinions about each other.
It is a popular opinion to vilify Americans for their role in WWII by devastating Japanese cities with the H Bomb. It is not so popular to consider that the Chinese and Koreans do not view the Japanese as innocent victims and were actually grateful to Americans for ending a war that killed far more people in their countries than were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki together.
But the language...ugh...it got worse halfway through the book. According to the author, the Koreans and Japanese went from morally conservative people in the 1940s to foul mouthed participants of casual sex by 1960.
The first generation of characters were admirable in their courage and grit, getting through grinding poverty and oppression during the Japanese occupation in the 1930s and 40s. I felt their suffering, rooted for their success and was profoundly relieved when their lot against all odds improved. The author colorfully describes the plight of the Koreans under Japanese rule, something that seems to be overshadowed in the U.S. by the plethora of documentaries about Japanese internment camps. People seem to forget who started that war.
When we get to the third generation, we see how both Korea and Japan have recovered from war torn countries to robust business people. They did this by their own effort and ingenuity. These people, who were truly victims, did not try to self-identify as victims or expect a free ride. People who are part of the victim identity politics of today might learn something by generations past.
by the time the children have grown up and started college or work, the moral standards have sunk into decrepitude. This generation, according to the author, cannot express themselves without using the "F" word and sex with your girlfriend was a matter of course.
I wonder at this because even in the west using the F word wasn't common until the eighties when it was in all the movies and as a consequence became a part of the population's vocabulary.
When the moral standard sunk, so did my interest in the book. It deteriorated into a kind of soap opera with characters I could not care less about.