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.
‘In beautifully sparse prose, The Pachinko Parlour is a contemplation on language, history and trauma and how, in spite of the ineffable past, we eventually come to console one another.’ --Yan Ge, author of The Strange Beasts of China
‘In prose as softly elegiac as it is laser-sighted, Elisa Shua Dusapin conjures up a Tokyo that is less mighty metropolis than boundless night sky, twinkling and pulsing with interlocking constellations of longing. A haunting exploration of the impossible quest to belong, and the convoluted, glistening paths it carries us down.’ --Polly Barton, author of Fifty Sounds
‘The Pachinko Parlour is a quietly melancholic, softly textured and roundly gorgeous novel about identity and alienation. It will stay with me for a long time.’ --Lara Williams, author of The Odyssey and Supper Club
‘A melancholic exploration of identity and belonging, The Pachinko Parlour is a beautifully told story of one woman trying to tether herself to something.’ --Kasim Ali, author of Good Intentions
‘An exquisite, cinematic novel not afraid of subtlety. I looked forward to reading it at night, to spending time in Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Tokyo, and in her pleasing sentences, which I can still hear in my mind.’ --Amina Cain, author of Indelicacy and A Horse at Night
‘A prismatic and calm guide of a book, that looks at the way that even (or especially) with family, you can feel the weight of your own distance. Rich with vitality and versions of togetherness.’ --Tice Cin, author of Keeping the House