The Pachinko Parlour, Elisa Shua Dusapin (paperback August 2022)
From the author of Winter in Sokcho, Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.
The days are beginning to draw in. The sky is dark by seven in the evening. I lie on the floor and gaze out of the window. Women’s calves, men’s shoes, heels trodden down by the weight of bodies borne for too long.
It is summer in Tokyo. Claire finds herself dividing her time between tutoring twelve-year-old Mieko, in an apartment in an abandoned hotel, and lying on the floor at her grandparents’: daydreaming, playing Tetris and listening to the sounds from the street above. The heat rises; the days slip by.
When her grandparents first arrived in Tokyo, fleeing the civil war in Korea, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlour. Shiny is still open, drawing people in with its bright, flashing lights and promises of good fortune. And as Mieko and Claire gradually bond, a tender relationship growing, Mieko’s determination to visit the pachinko parlour builds and with it, Claire’s own desire to visit Korea with her grandparents.
The Pachinko Parlour is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel amongst family. Crisp and enigmatic, Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.