The Pachinko Parlor
by Open Letter
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.
The plan is for Claire to visit Korea with her grandparents. They fled the civil war there over fifty years ago, along with thousands of others, and haven’t been back since. When they first arrived in Japan, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlor. 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 parlor builds.
The Pachinko Parlor is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel among family. Crisp and enigmatic, Shua Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.
Translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
About the Author:
Elisa Shua Dusapin (1992) was born in France and raised in Paris, Seoul, and Switzerland. Her debut novel, Winter in Sokcho, was awarded the Prix Robert Walser, the Prix Régine Desforges, and the 2021 National Book Award for Translation.
About the Translator:
Aneesa Abbas Higgins has translated books by Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ali Zamir, and Nina Bouraoui. Seven Stones by Vénus Khoury-Ghata won the Scott Moncrieff Prize, and both A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir and What Became of the White Savage by François Garde won PEN Translates awards. Her translation of Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Winter in Sokcho won the 2021 National Book Award for Translation.
Praise for Elisa Shua Dusapin:
"A book full of delicacy and melancholy . . . sprinkled with meticulous touches."–Le Monde