The Samurai by Shusaku Endo
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Synopsis

 In the 17th century, Hasekura and three other low-level samurai are sent to seek trade with Nueva España (today's Mexico). Accompanied by Father Velasco, a Franciscan missionary and interpreter, they pursue their mission from Nueva España to Spain. Along the way, they endure not only the hardships of the journey but Velasco's incessant proselytizing. The ambitious priest, who believes that their conversion will gain him the appointment as Bishop of Japan, convinces them that they will succeed only if they convert to Christianity, and reluctantly they agree. Failure, however, is their only reward. After years of wandering, they return to Japan, where they face shame and persecution. Basing his novel on the actual voyage of Hasekura, Shusaku Endo masterfully evokes the struggle between the Western individual and the Eastern collective identity and in so doing plumbs the depths of honor, faith, and human endurance. The result is an expansive audio book of astonishing power and insight.

 

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 May 6, 1982 by Owen, Peter Publishing. 272 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Samurai

Kirkus Reviews

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Through the recent English-language publication of a series of brilliant novels, Endo has quickly become recognized as the most subtle-yet-devout writer of Christian fiction in the world today--one who uses the Japanese character (and its problematic fit with Christianity) to jimmy out extraordin...

Oct 13 1982 | Read Full Review of The Samurai (New Directions C...

Publishers Weekly

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A historical novel of early contacts between East and West from one of Japan's greatest 20th-century writers. (Apr.)

Apr 14 1997 | Read Full Review of The Samurai (New Directions C...

Publishers Weekly

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A historical novel of early contacts between East and West from one of Japan's greatest 20th-century writers. (Apr.)

Apr 14 1997 | Read Full Review of The Samurai (New Directions C...

BC Books

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Interestingly, he describes stillness not by what it is, but by what it is not: “Stillness was not the absence of sound.

Mar 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Samurai (New Directions C...

BC Books

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But none of these points are addressed, and instead Endo argues the religious approach — believing that faith in God leads to higher things (Endo himself was Catholic), and this isn’t so much a criticism per se, but just something to consider.

Mar 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Samurai (New Directions C...

London Review of Books

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Reader Rating for The Samurai
87%

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