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SILENCE
Bibliophile price: £3.00
Shusaku Endo has been called the Japanese Graham Greene. His books are problematic and controversial, his writing deeply psychological and he depicts the anguish of faith and the mercy of god. He was the first Catholic to put forward the conclusion that Christianity must adapt itself radically if it is to take root in the 'swamp' of Japan. His novel Silence deals with the troubled period of Japanese history known as the 'Christian century' beginning in 1614 when there were about 300,000 Christians in Japan whose total population was about 20 million. Many were burned alive, even tiny children, or hung downwards from gallows, their foreheads lightly slashed with a knife to vent blood and left for more than a week in this position. Yet Christianity's roots had gone too deep to be eradicated. In the novel, set in 17th century Japan, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords forced 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. US import with roughcut pages in Picador Modern Classic paperback, remainder mark.

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