Monday, May 16, 2016

Silence by Shusaku Endo


I don't read novels often, much less those translated from Japanese but CAN I GUSH ABOUT HOW AWESOME THIS BOOK IS? I mean Hunger Games was brilliant, so combining the gripping narrative of that and 1Q84's quintessential Japanese feel, together with a dash of innovative Christian persecution in the form of suspending one upside down over a scorching pit, tying them to a stake to die at sea, a sudden and random execution by a samurai paired with the utter and complete silence of God in the midst of all this and you have a earth-shatteringly good book in your hands. 

Why had I never read this before?

My, oh my. 

I made this impulse buy at Kinokuniya after receiving Makoto Fujimura's 'Silence and Beauty' in the post. This was because when I posted a picture of the latter up on Twitter, someone suggested I ought to finish Endo's work first and so I did. And wow, what a book!

Silence is set in the 1600s where Japan, after years of missionary work, began to deciminate Christians one at a time. They drove out all foreign missionaries and also murdered all professing believers who refused to recant. 

After realising that simply killing them was making matyrs, they then began thinking up creative torture methods to force them to deny Christ. This seemed to be more effective and is probably why Japan is a country where only 1% of the population today identify as Christian (Source: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html). 

*Spoiler alert*
'Silence' revolves around a Portuguese priest, Father Rodrigues, who sets off from his homeland to Japan after hearing rumours that his beloved mentor, Father Ferreira, has apotastized. He left with two other fellow priests who had once set under the theological instruction of their former teacher, eager to know the truth of the matter. No one knew whether he was dead or alive and if the abandonment of his faith was a fact or a lie. We find ourselves following the protagonist as he first lands in the village of Tomogi, is hidden by Japanese Christians in a hut at the top of a hill, and then is later captured. 

The theme became clearer and clearer as the novel progressed and one feels for the main character and how the utter silence of God in the midst of suffering can be cruel and unrelenting. 

I'll leave you to find out how the book ends but rest assured it is one satisfying end without any easy answers nor platitudes. 

Pick up this book at Kinokuniya, Book Depository or Amazon today!