Following up on my earlier posts on DiverseAThon here and here, Silence by Shusaku Endo is my #ownvoices selection for this week. This book has recently been adapted into a movie by Martin Scorsese. After reading this incredible novel – I am hot footing it to the cinema to watch the film.
Back to the book…Endo’s protagonist is a Christian priest from Portugal who having heard of the oppression suffered of Japanese Christians travels to Japan. We follow the priest’s travels, hiding in small villages, inevitable capture by the authorities and – more importantly – struggle with the impossible choice of either abandoning his faith or his fellow Christians.
Throughout the story, the protagonist queries the silence of God. Why must his flock suffer while He remains silent? Coupled with this age-old question the reader sees how conflicted the protagonist is in the face of betrayal. The constant references back to Judas and Christ are powerful and add to the internal struggle the protagonist faces and never really resolves.
Endo, being a Japanese practising Catholic, who himself questioned the validity of his faith beautifully captures the dilemma of the protagonist and the reader cannot help but support him regardless of the decision he chooses.
It is difficult to summarise this evocative tale of internal conflict without giving too much away but I will say this: Endo’s narrative is exceptional. I hope those of you who are looking to watch the movie first read the book.
Recommended for: historical fiction lovers.
Favourite quotes: “A man has died. Yet the outside world went on as if nothing had happened. Could anything be more crazy? Was this martyrdom? Why are you silent?…Why does this stillness continue?“
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!