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Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese

In this powerful psychological drama set in the 17th century, Portuguese missionary Father Rodrigues arrives in Japan to find the small Christian community there practicing their faith in secret amid brutal persecution by the Edo government. Soon, Father Rodrigues's faith will be tested to the breaking point as he is faced with an unbearable moral dilemma: renounce his faith, or ...

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Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese

In this powerful psychological drama set in the 17th century, Portuguese missionary Father Rodrigues arrives in Japan to find the small Christian community there practicing their faith in secret amid brutal persecution by the Edo government. Soon, Father Rodrigues's faith will be tested to the breaking point as he is faced with an unbearable moral dilemma: renounce his faith, or watch his followers be tortured and put to death one by one.

At once an emotionally intense drama and a piercing exploration of belief, Silence is a haunting novel of profound insight into the true meaning of faith and courage from Nobel-prize nominated writer Shusaku Endo, one of Japan's most revered novelists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama."—Irving Howe, The New York Times Book Review

"One of the finest historical novels written by anyone, anywhere . . . Flawless."—David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks

"A remarkable work . . . sombre, delicate and startlingly empathetic."—John Updike, The New Yorker

"One of the finest novels of our time."—Graham Greene

"A major talent, Endo makes an impressive debut here with this novel, a bravura admixture of history, theological quandaries and rugged characterizations...Endo's achievement rests on...splendid characters, the restrained classical way he tells of their ordeals, and his sensitivity to the clash between Japanese culture and a very Western mode of religion."—Publishers Weekly

"A profoundly moving, profoundly disturbing book...The translation by William Johnston is a brilliant, subtle piece of work with not a line akilter."—Washington Post Book World

"A Japanese novelist of considerable distinction. SILENCE is impressive because of its simplicity and its harrowing account of men of faith in a faith-denying situation. It is worthy of our serious contemplation and respect."—San Francisco Review of Books

"Superb and harrowing - his masterpiece."—Observer (UK)

"This is a masterpiece. There can be no higher praise."—Daily Telegraph (UK)

"A marvelous book . . . Shusaku Endo is giving deep thought to the most basic problems of truth and how in exchanging it among ourselves we misconstruct its nature at every step."—Spectator (UK)

"Endo's stark, strange theological novel looks back to 17th-century Japan to raise an enduring question: why does God remain with folded arms, silent in the face of human suffering? Telling the story of Fr Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit who follows his missionary vocation to Japan at a time of violent religious persecution, SILENCE is a compelling historical fiction, a potent distillation of the paradoxes and ambiguities of faith and, from a Christian author, a daring challenge to religious orthodoxy."—The Guardian (UK) - 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780800871864
  • Publisher: Taplinger Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1980
  • Pages: 201
  • Sales rank: 50,937
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Shusaku Endo is often regarded as Japan's most important writer. Widely translated around the globe, his works are considered modern classics. Endo was nominated for the 1994 Nobel Prize, and was awarded the Tanizaki Prize—Japan's most prestigious literary award—for Silence. He went on to win every major literary award in Japan, including the Akutagawa, the Noma, and the Shincho. Endo passed away in 1996.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended - check it out!!

    Very compelling book! A real "page turner"!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010


    This book is truly worth the read. It raises hard, truth-seeking questions about our conceptions of who Jesus Christ really was and what his role in our lives. Writing with a post-modern flare, Endo challenges the conception of the telos of the Christian life in an honest and poignant way many Christian writers of the last 50 have not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Some Great Fiction

    This is a nice work of fiction. Some may feel this book should be categorized with Christian Inspiration due to the fact that it is heavily influenced by Christian fables. Japanese historians would find this story flawed and inaccurate with a mostly pessimistic view on Japense culture which is true. However this is a work of fiction and should be viewed as such. The novel's point of view is biased, but then again so are most other books...right?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    Christianity is banished!

    In 1614, Japan banished Christianity, and from 1619, it began to execute Christians. Later, it opted on more excruciating measures by torturing Christians to death until they apostatized. The Church, afraid that Christianity might die out in Japan, sent some missionaries to spread Christianity secretly in Japan and work underground. However many of the fathers were caught, d, and killed by the Japanese officials. The Church had been receiving letters from Father Ferreira about the conditions of Christians in Japan and other news, until suddenly the letters stopped coming. Worried and curious about what could have happened to the Father, the church, few years later, sends Father Rodrigues and Father Garrpe on deadly mission to find what became of Father Ferreira and to report on the condition of the Christians in Japan. A Japanese man called Kichijiro leads the two fathers to Japan. Kichijiro is Christian, but vehemently denies it. After arriving at Japan, Kichijiro brings them to a where there are Christians. The villagers are ecstatic, that finally fathers have come to guide them and hear their sufferings. The villagers build a hideout for the fathers to live secretly so that the guards won¿t find out. However, luck runs out and the guards hear the rumors that there are two priests in hiding. They ransack the village and take three villagers, whom they tie up on big pole and leave them at the shore until tide comes and drowns them. Anguished the fathers decide to split up and leave the village. Father Garrpe goes north while Father Rodrigues makes his way toward Nagasaki where he heard are hundreds of Christians in hiding. However, on his way, Father Rodrigues finds Kichijiro, who tricks him and leads him directly to the guards. The guards put the Father in prison for many days, starving and thirsty. They command him to apostatize, but he refuses. Then the guards tie him, and drag him around the town. They command him to apostatize, but he refuses. Then they take him back to the prison and leave him in the prison without any water or food. During this time, Father Rodrigues learns that Father Ferreira is still alive. A few days later Father Rodrigues encounter Inoue, ¿the terror for the Christians. (35)¿ Inoue says that Father Rodrigues will sooner or later apostatize, just like the other, just like Father Ferreira. According to him, the ¿swamp of Japan will swallow him.¿ Inoue challenges Father Rodrigues by asking, why the God remains silent while his people are suffering. Then Inoue says that unless the Father apostatizes, other Christians in the prison, even the ones who had apostatized will be hung upside down from a tree all their blood is drained out of the body. Now, the Father is torn between whether he should apostatize for the sake of others or whether he should let them suffer and hold strong to his faith. Furthermore, he starts wondering why God is silent. This is an excellent book; I simply couldn¿t put it down until the last page. I think it provides an interesting angle on how the Japanese looked at Christianity and the situation of Japan at that time. Furthermore, it¿s a very powerful and moving book for both Christians and non-Christians.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2003

    The Mighty Paradox

    Shusaku Endo writes as a Japanese Catholic and often addresses the clash between the two. They don't seem to fit together. But if there's one area where Endo and Catholicism fit perfectly on the same page, it is in their mastery of the paradoxical. The faithful apostate, the holy sinner, the sinful saint, the silence that speaks the loudest, the living martyr, the successful failure. Endo takes us into a web of paradox, challenging belief and disbelief alike, challenging notions of black and white and leaving the reader in an abyss of gray in which the truth is ultimately found. And the truth, as Endo makes clear and unclear, is paradoxical. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Emotionally wrenching, mentally (and spiritually) challenging, and wholly fulfilling. Silence, the book that says so much. I recommend it for everyone. Enjoy!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2003

    an amazing novel

    a beautiful novel about faith, relgious or not, spiritual or not, this book is a wonderful work of art. I heard on Charlie Rose that Martin Scorsese would love to direct a film version, he must. this book needs to be told cinematically since it is such a visual story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2002

    never mind the religion here's an artist

    New Directions began as a trendy publisher of Beatnik poetry, so it¿s surprising to see the quotes that they have lined up on the back of this book. Which shows that coffee shop yuppies and american state intellectuals can agree on some things. Like when their identity as ¿christian¿ or ¿radical¿ or most especially ¿american¿ feels threatened by writers who refuse to meet their conventional moral expectations. Just what does the windbag at the Spectator mean by ¿us¿? What kind of arrogant british prejudicial assumption is that? Since he carefully lists the genius¿s that bewilder him I am most certainly NOT in any company, which he has taken it upon himself to represent. His ignorance confirms their validity as major artists. With the possible exception of Graham Greene, Endo remains misunderstood within the US/UK block. The only analogue to him I can think of is Nikos Kazanzakis, whose attempt to reconcile ¿opposites¿ (spirit-flesh, god-nature) within his writing shares much with Endo¿s concerns as an artist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2002

    Very Powerful and Thought-Provoking

    I thought this book was very, very, very good. It was emotionally and mentally engaging and I would highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not they believe in God.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2000

    Powerful. Profound.

    One of the most profound books I've ever read. Narration transports you to the feel, sights, smells or feudal Japan. But the questions Shisaku Endo raises are the timeless questions of faith, loyalty, and love. What does it really mean to be a christian? What would you do for your faith? Nowadays when WWJD is such a popular theme, Shisaku Endo presents the ultimate test of faith. There is no right or wrong answer - in the end we must each live with our choices and answer to the God we believe in.

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