Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: Silence by Shusaku Endo

Synopsis: Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece. (from the online description)
Review: For me, this book started a bit slow. It took me a chapter or two for the story to capture me. But when it did, I was pulled into the struggle of Father Sebastian Rodrigues. With a sense of righteous duty and an ardent love for Christ, Rodrigues and another priest, make the arduous journey from Rome to Japan. There, the meet with the persecuted Christians and work to unite and comfort them. But they are betrayed by another character, and the Japanese authorities begin the long process of torturing Rodrigues.

Here is there the story gets raw and gritty. Rodrigues watches the suffering of those who stay faithful to God, watches their pain and hears their prayers, and wonders why God stays Silent. And it is the Silence of God that permeated the story.  The very question the Psalmist asked: Why does God let the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer?  A question that every Christian has asked, every Christ-follow wondered at, every person who watches a loved one suffer. Where is God? Why is He Silent? The ending left me raw and open. There is no answer to the question. We are left to wonder, as Rodrigues wondered, left to hold a faith in the face of Silence. 

Bookmarks: 4.5 of 5

Awards: Tanizaki Prize, 1966

ISBN: 0-8008-7186-3
Year Published: 1965 (In English, 1969)
Date Finished: 2-2-2017
Pages: 201

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