BOOK REVIEW: THE PACHINKO PARLOR by ELISA SHUA DUSAPIN (tr. ANEESA ABBAS HIGGINS)


Maybe I just have overly rosy memories of Winter in Sokcho, but this was really…underwhelming. Lots of interesting themes and moments here (I especially loved the ending), but the story was missing those important interstitial bits that make a narrative feel cohesive. I understand that Elisa Shua Dusapin’s writing is like this: that what distinguishes it is precisely that stop-and-start quality that makes every sentence or sentence fragment feel very punctuated and striking. I get that, and at times that quality does work; I don’t need every novel I read to have flowery, lyrical prose. At the same time, though, I feel like where Dusapin’s writing worked for me in Winter in Sokcho, it didn’t quite work for me here. I wanted more from the story, but the writing style seemed to constantly hold me at arm’s length.

Thanks to Restless Books for providing me with an eARC of this via Edelweiss!



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