Sanju, a young Korean woman, is swept into a romance with Hansu, a handsome traveller and becomes pregnant. When she tells him during one of his visits, he confesses that he is married with children, but promises to take care of her. She rejects his offer.
Meanwhile, she and her mother, who run an inn, have taken in Isak, a pastor ,who falls ill. They get him better To repay their kindness, the pastor offers to marry Sanju, give her baby a name and take care of her child.
Sanju leaves with Isak and the two travel to Japan, where Isak will live with his brother and his wife. TImes are difficult in Japan, where Koreans are mistrusted and mistreated. Sanju falls on hard times, struggling to make a better life for her two children. She is once again rescued by the handsome, and now even more powerful, Hansu.
Set in 1900s Japan, this multi-generational family saga provided an in-depth look at the Korean and Japanese prejudice, as well as life in Korea and Japan. The cultural aspects were deftly woven into the story, and the writing very succinct.
The title refers to a Japanese game, similar to the slot machines, and is a real draw in Japan -- even today.
I am usually intimidated by hefty books, but this one at 496p was easy to get through - although, I did struggle with all the names at first. Now, that I have tackled this, I am considering reading The Goldfinch. . .