Five by Endo by Shusaku Endo
(New Directions Bibelots)

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Five wonderful stories by the Japanese master. Winner of every major Japanese literary prize, his work translated around the globe, Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) is a great and unique figure in the literature of the twentient century. "Irrevocably enmeshed in Japanese culture, he is by virtue of his religion [Endo was Roman Catholic] irrevocably alienated from it" (Geoffrey O'Brian, Village Voice). It is this aspect that has made Endo so particularly intriguing to his readership at home and abroad. Now gathered in a New Directions Bibelot edition are five of Endo's supreme short stories exemplifying his style and his interests, presenting, as it were, Endo in a nutshell. "Unzen," the opening story, touches on the subject of Silence Endo's most famous novel -- that is the torture and martyrdom of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan. Next comes "A Fifty-year-old Man" in which Mr. Chiba takes up ballroom dancing and faces the imminent death of his brother and his dog Whitey. In "MJapanese in Warsaw" a business man has a strange encounter; in "The Box," an old photo album and a few postcards have a tale to reveal. Finally included is "The Case of Isobe," the opening chapter of Endo's novel Deep River in which Isobe, a member of a tour group, hopes to find in India the reincarnation of the wife he took so much for granted.

About Shusaku Endo

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Shusaku Endo was born in Tokyo in 1923 and, with his family, converted to Catholicism while he was still a child. Much of his writing centers on the conflict this conversion engendered as he struggled to develop faith in a deity foreign to Japanese culture. His writings also reflect on his experiences during World War II during the bombings and the subsequent shortage of basic human necessities for the Japanese people. He explores the suffering endured and the inevitable shock wave upon human relationships and the human psyche. Endo graduated from Keio University and then journeyed to France after the war to continue his studies, but was forced to return to Japan because of illness. After a period of convalescence Endo decided on a writing career, publishing his first novel, Shiroihito, in 1955. His novel The Samurai, published in the United States in 1996, is considered one of his finest works. Endo's reputation is due in part to his exploration of moral dilemma as it relates to divergent cultures. Endo has won many literary awards. In 1982 he was elected to the Japan Arts Academy. Shusaku Endo died in 1996. J. Thomas Rimer is emeritus professor of East Asian languages and literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of several works, including "Traditions in Modern Japanese Fiction: An Introduction" and "A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature,"Van C. Gessel is professor of Japanese literature at Brigham Young University. He is the author of "Three Modern Novelists: Soseki, Tanizaki, Kawabata" and coeditor of "The Showa Anthology: Modern Japanese Short Stories,
Published June 1, 2000 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. 96 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Not as well known in the West as Mishima or Kawabata, the late Endo is one of Japan's most revered novelists, his most famous work being Silence, in which the Roman Catholic author deals with the torture and martyrdom of Christians in 17th-century Japan.

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“The Case of Isobe” involves a man learning that his wife is dying of cancer, and how their relationship has not been a passionate one, though while she is dying, she manages to leave functionary notes for him regarding mundane tasks.

Feb 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Five by Endo: (New Directions...

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