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Creator / Shusaku Endo

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''The religious mentality of the Japanese is —just as it was at the time when the people accepted Buddhism—responsive to one who "suffers with us" and who "allows for our weakness,"...In brief, the Japanese tend to seek in their gods and buddhas a warm-hearted mother rather than a stern father. With this fact always in mind I tried not so much to depict God in the father-image that tends to characterize Christianity, but rather to depict the kindhearted maternal aspect of God revealed to us in the personality of Jesus.
A Life of Jesus

Shūsaku Endō (March 27, 1923 – September 29, 1996) is a Japanese novelist and short-story writer known for telling bleak tales about alienation, corruption and suffering, filtered through his unique perspective as a Japanese Christian. He was part of the Third Generation of post-war writers, who came on to the scene after the Second World War. Endo's parents divorced sometime after his birth and his mother converted to Catholicism and baptized her son in the same. Catholicism tended to mark Endo as an outsider. Among his fellow Japanese, he was practising a religion associated with the West and which was perceived as a tool of imperialism and which in any case comprised less than 1% of its population. Yet among the West, which Endo got to experience when he studied in France, he was again an outsider among those who did not see him as a real Catholic on account of his Japanese origins. A later visit to the Holy Land however, reconciled Endo to his faith, taking inspiration from Jesus' own status as an outsider and his popularity and support among the vagabonds and outsider of Judean society. He also took much inspiration from other Catholic novelists such as Georges Bernanos, Francois Mauriac and Graham Greene (the latter was a big fan of Endo and constantly promoted his work in the Anglophone).


Endo was incredibly prolific as a novelist and short-story writer. He first came to fame for his short novel The Sea and the Poison which dealt with the moral squalor behind the human experimentation by Imperial Japan's forces. He's most well known however for the Historical Fiction novels dealing with the arrival of Christianity in Japan — Silence and The Samurai. Both novels are impeccably researched and striking for its Perspective Flip in depicting the West from Japanese eyes, balanced by Endo's refusal to glorify or condemn either Japanese traditions or foreign influences. Silence in particular has been adapted for film twice, once in Japan by Masahiro Shinoda (whose screenplay was written by Endo though the latter was critical of changes to the ending made by Shinoda). The second adaptation is the 2016 film by Martin Scorsese. Other works by Endo were also adapted in Japan by Kei Kumai, who tackled The Sea and the Poison and Deep River, Endo's final novel.


Selected Bibliography


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