Monday, January 8, 2018

the last book I ever read (Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, excerpt seven)

from National Book Award Finalist Pachinko by Min Jin Lee:

Noa was able to buy every book he needed for his classes, and when he couldn’t find one at the bookstore, all he had to do was go to the immense university library, which was deepy underutilized by his peers. He didn’t understand the Japanese students around him, because they seemed so much more interested in things outside of school rather than learning. He knew well enough from schools past that the Japanese didn’t want much to do with Koreans, so Noa kept to himself, no different than when he was a boy. There were some Koreans at Waseda, but he avoided them, too, because they seemed too political. During one of their monthly lunches, Hansu had said that the leftists were “a bunch of whiners” and the rightists were “plain stupid.” Noa was alone mostly, but he didn’t feel lonely. Even after two years, he was still in thrall with just being at Waseda, with just having a quiet room to read in. Like a man starved, Noa filled his mind, ravenous for good books. He read through Dickens, Thackeray, Hardy, Austen, and Trollope, then moved on to the Continent to read through much of Balzac, Zola, and Flaubert, then fell in love with Tolstoy. His favorite was Goethe; he must have read The Sorrows of Young Werther at least half a dozen times.

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