Silence by Shusaku Endo

silence

Originally published in 1966, then in translation in 1969, this book has gained recent popularity due to the release of the feature film of the same name.  This fictional account of the life of a Jesuit priest in 1640’s Japan is a story that depicts the battle between religious faith and doubt.  The “silence” of the title refers to God’s presumed silence to the suffering of the protagonist and those that by association are persecuted by Japanese authorities.  The conflict the protagonist faces is both internal and external.  The underlying irony of this story is twofold with the protagonist viewing his mission in Japan at first as truly righteous.  He does this even in the face of his former mentor and the Japanese authorities pointing out that he is an outsider presuming that he knows what is best for the Japanese by preaching about salvation and in doing so leading those that follow to persecution and death.  The other irony which is not overtly mentioned is that although the priest is condemning the Japanese for their persecution of Christians in Japan at the same time in Christian Europe heretics were being persecuted for not adhering to what was thought as the right form of Christianity.  Although this book is set in Medieval Japan it is not an overly historic work.  One learns more about this time period by reading Clavell’s Shogun in comparison; however this is not the point of the novel.  It is instead an internal religious discussion by the writer for readers to understand what it means to worship and have beliefs that are not shared by the majority and considered intrinsically foreign.  Silence by Shusaku Endo forces readers to confront how they may have given up their beliefs or ideals in order to conform and survive and get ahead in society. (Submitted by Shane)

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Solanin by Inio Asano

solanin

Solanin is a young adult manga written by Inio Asano.  First written in 2006, it has been reprinted last year with an additional epilogue.  Solanin is a critically acclaimed manga that depicts the lives of twenty-something millennials living in Japan.  The characters in the book have recently graduated from college and are attempting to find themselves and their place within Japanese society.  The prescient ennui of fretting by the characters for their futures within Japanese society permeates this manga.  The characters battle between what is expected of them by society and what they feel they should be doing with their lives.  At first the protagonists feel the choice is binary; either they should grow up and get jobs or drop out and fulfill their passion for music.  By the end of the manga we have observed the character’s growth through personal loss and see them triumph over the need to feel alive because they have recognized that their daily actions do have meaning. (Submitted by Shane)

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi DVD

810Fw8dOh4L._SL1500_In Japan, there are hundreds of sushi restaurants, but among them only one has a world renowned rating of 3 Michelin Stars. Jiro is  well advanced in years, and in his dedication, he is still striving for perfect sushi. In a world where sushi has become common place, discover the lengths that Jiro and his two sons have gone to recreate sushi and stand above all other restaurants. I love sushi and this movie has given me a new appreciation of this food as an art form. One thing is certain, I will now add this place to my bucket list of a ‘once in a life time experience’.  (submitted by Sarah)

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