Saturday, February 26, 2011

"The Samurai" by Shusaku Endo

I broke out of my habit of reading only literature that was originally written in English to read something translated from Japanese. Shusaku Endo was a modern Christian author who has been called "a Japanese Graham Greene" for his deep explorations of Catholicism. The epithet is unfair to both authors, since the only things they had in common were their religion, their willingness to ask painful questions, and their consummate skill as novelists. Their styles and perspectives are completely different.

In other words, I read this book with as much enjoyment as I did any of Graham Greene's stories. Endo's art as a novelist shines through translation, since his structural balance and precision with symbols transcends particular words. The emotion contained in this story is very deep yet restrained, making it feel characteristically Asian.

Endo's Christ is a man of suffering who can identify with the poor in spirit, and in The Samurai, suffering is the gateway by which humans begin to desire God. It is an extraordinarily thought-provoking and meaningful novel.

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