The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry

by Kenzaburo Oe

Paperback(Reissue)

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Overview

The Silent Cry follows two brothers who return to their ancestral home, a village in densely forested Western Japan. After decades of separation, the reunited men are each preoccupied by their own personal crises. One brother grapples with the recent suicide of his dearest friend, the birth of his disabled son, and his wife's increasing alcoholism. The other brother sets out to incite an uprising among the local youth against the disintegration of the community's culture and economy due to the imposing franchise of a Korean businessman nicknamed the "Emperor of the Supermarkets". Both brothers live in the shadow of the mysteries surrounding the untimely deaths of their older brother and younger sister, as well as their great-grandfather's political heroism. When long-kept family secrets are revealed, the brothers' strained bond is pushed to its breaking-point and their lives are irrevocably changed. Considered Oe's most essential work by the Nobel Prize committee, The Silent Cry is as powerfully relevant today as it was when first published in 1967.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802124784
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 582,086
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 16.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kenzaburo Oe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for creating "an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today." He is the author of numerous books, including The Changeling; Rouse Up, O Young Men of the New Age; Hiroshima Notes; A Personal Matter; and Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, among others.

Read an Excerpt

"Why don't you try some water instead?" I urged her. "There's a spring here that the valley folk say gives the best water in the whole forest. That's if it hasn't dried up."

It hadn't dried up. At the foot of the slope on the forest side of the road, an unexpected outflow of water formed a pool about as big as the circle of a man's arms. The water--too copious, almost, to have sprung from such small beginnings--made a channel that ran down to the valley. Beside the pool stood a number of outdoor hearths, some new, some old, the clay and stones charred black and hideous inside. In my childhood, my friends and I had built just such a hearth by the spring, and cooked rice and made soup there. In a twice-yearly ritual, each of us chose the group he would camp out with, thereby determining the division of forces among the children of the valley. The outing lasted only two days each spring and autumn, but the influence of the groups thus formed by the children remained valid throughout the year. Nothing was so humiliating as to be expelled from the group one had joined.

As I bent down over the spring to drink from it directly, I had a sudden sense of certainty: certainty that everything--the small round pebbles, grayish blue and vermilion and white, lying at the bottom of water whose brightness seemed still to harbor the midday light; the fine sand that swirled upward, clouding it ever so slightly; and the faint shiver that ran over the surface of the water--was just as I'd seen it twenty years before; a certainty, born of longing yet to myself, at least, utterly convincing, that the water now welling up so ceaselessly was exactly the same water that had welled up and flowed away in those days. And the same certainty developed directly into a feeling that the "I" bending down there now was not the child who had once bent his bare knees there, that there was no continuity, no consistency between the two "I's," that the "I" now bending down there was a remote stranger. The present "I" had lost all true identity. Nothing, either within me or without, offered any hope of recovery.

I could hear the transparent ripples on the pool tinkling, accusing me of being no better than a rat. I shut my eyes and sucked up the cold water. My gums shrank, leaving a taste of blood on my tongue. As I stood up, my wife bent down in obedient imitation, as though I was an authority on how to drink from the spring. In fact, I was as complete a stranger to the spring by now as she, who had just come through the forest for the first time. I shuddered. The bitter cold penetrated my consciousness again. Shivering, my wife stood up too and tried to smile to show that the water had tasted good; but her teeth as her purple lips shrank back merely seemed to be bared in anger. Shoulder to shoulder, silent and shuddering with cold, we returned to the jeep. Takashi averted his eyes as though he'd seen something too pitiful to look on.

What People are Saying About This

Henry Miller

Oe, in the range of hope and despair he covers, seems to me to have in him a touch of Dostoevsky.

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