When I visited South Korea as a college student in the late 1980s and many times later as an adult, I saw these women again in the markets and in the streets, almost unchanged in their expressions except for their clothes and hair. 13. Many of the main characters struggle this affect your reading experience? Many of the main characters struggle with shame throughout their lives, whether due to their ethnicity, family, life choices, or other factors. He is now a naturalized American citizen, a retiree, and a member of the AARP who also enjoys recreational deep-sea fishing. 7. Compare the ways in which the women of On weekends and school holidays, my sisters and I took turns working with our parents at the store. I wrote a draft of this novel between the years 1996 and 2004, and it was called Motherland; an eponymous excerpt of it was published in The Missouri Review in 2002. 10. Yangjin and Kyunghee agree that "A In terms of plot, in my initial draft, I had started the book in the late 1970s; after my interviews, I realized that the story had to begin in 1910, and my character Sunja moves from Korea to Japan in 1933. What is little known outside of Japan is that as of 2015, pachinko generates revenues of about 19 trillion yen, which is about $190 billion U.S. at the current exchange rate, or about twice the export revenues of the Japanese car industry. * Some questions from Reading the brave one, the one who would’ve confronted the officers with I am drawn to novel writing using the omniscient point of view because this allows me to imagine and reveal the minds as well as the behaviors of all characters when necessary. Unlike his brother, Noa has always tried to hide his true identity as a Korean. I think, especially here, if the narrator is fair, then the reader can decide what happened and what she feels about the story. For the kinds of books I want to write, I need an omniscient narrator. Scholars like David Eng have argued effectively that there is an established practice of a kind of racial castration of Asian men in Western media and literature. I am normally interested in the minor characters as well as the major ones. children --- and are these hopes rewarded? with shame throughout their lives, whether due to their ethnicity, Do you agree? “Fair” seems like such a simple word, but I think because my subject matter is so troubling and controversial, I wanted my narrator to be as objective as possible. I wrote Free Food for Millionaires exclusively in New York City. Naturally, the movement of people changes the culture of the people around them, and the culture of the people around them affects the migrant people. In both works, there is a narrator who knows the viewpoints of each character at all times. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy. Is it easy for you to write your characters’ deaths, or do you have a strong sentimental attachment to them? We cannot help but be interested in the stories of people that history pushes aside so thoughtlessly. What were the ways in which the family managed to not only More about membership! Recommended to book clubs by 19 of 20 members. 17. Compare the many parent-child Every study points to the fact that attractive people also earn more money and have higher social status. woman’s lot is to suffer." When we moved to New York, she worked alongside my father in their cramped, under-heated wholesale jewelry shop in Manhattan, which was robbed and burgled on numerous occasions. generations? must choose between survival and tradition or morality. One form of power, however fleeting, for anyone, is physical beauty. 5. What does "home" mean to each of the I have been changed by these events, and these events inform my work and the way I approach crises. understood survival and family." We use cookies to enhance your visit to us. Also, nearly every Korean-Japanese I interviewed had some close or distant connection to the yakiniku (Korean barbecue, or galbi) business. The epigram for Book III comes from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, where he writes of a “horizontal comradeship” which must be necessarily imagined in a nation. All my life, I have been surrounded by all kinds of women who work in menial and middle-class jobs, who lack the resources to join gyms, color their hair, buy cosmetics and skincare, go to dermatologists and plastic surgeons, polish their nails, eliminate unwanted hair, buy expensive clothing, eat less cheap carbohydrates and eat more lean proteins to be slim…the list goes on. I mention all this here because nearly every Korean-Japanese person I met in Japan had some historical connection or social connection with the pachinko business—one of the very few businesses in which Koreans could find employment and have a stake. Membership is free & gives you access to book giveaways, author chats & your private, free book club page. How do they differ across families and The daughter of a well-known minister and the headmaster of an orphanage school in Busan, my mother grew up very sheltered in a privileged home. If history so often fails to represent all of us, it is not because historians are not interested, but because historians often lack the primary documents of so-called minor characters in history. 1. "History has failed us, but no matter." poverty, violence and extreme discrimination --- gains wealth and 11. Much is made of Sunja’s fading beauty, intimacy and love with these two characters? What initially inspired you to write this novel? How would the book have been Through that process of gathering oral histories, I felt compelled to discard my earlier draft. I didn’t know anything about this community, which had its origins during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to1945. Pachinko is a kind of vertical pinball game played by adults in Japan. survive, but also eventually thrive? I was born in Seoul and lived there until I was seven, and in my childhood I was keenly aware of the old women who sold snacks in the open markets and on street corners when I went food shopping with my mother. The modern Korean is informed by the legacy of the Japanese occupation, World War II, the Cold War, and the Korean War as well as Confucianism, Buddhism, Communism, and Christianity. For me, the pachinko business and the game itself serve as metaphors for the history of Koreans in Japan—a people caught in seemingly random global conflicts—as they win, lose, and struggle for their place and for their lives. I don’t work very efficiently. In New York, I am more guarded and private, but in Tokyo, I felt a kind of intense and immediate kinship with my fellow Americans.