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The Silent Cry: A Novel [Paperback]

By Kenzaburo Oe & John Bester (Translator)
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Item description for The Silent Cry: A Novel by Kenzaburo Oe & John Bester...

The Silent Cry traces the uneasy relationship between two brothers who return to their ancestral home, a village in densely forested western Japan. While one brother tries to sort out the after-effects of a friend's suicide and the birth of a retarded son, the other embarks on a quixotic mission to incite an uprising among the local youth. Oe's description of this brother's messianic struggle to save a disintegrating local culture and economy from the depredations of a Korean wheeler-dealer called "The Emperor of the Supermarkets" is as chillingly pertinent today as it was when first published in 1967. Powerful and daring, The Silent Cry is a thoroughly compelling classic of world literature.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 7, 1994
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770019653  
ISBN13  9784770019653  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kenzaburo Oe & John Bester

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! His prolific body of work has won almost every major international honor, including the 1989 Prix Europalia and the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Kenzaburo Oe was born in 1935.

Kenzaburo Oe has published or released items in the following series...
  1. OE, Kenzaburo

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary

Reviews - What do customers think about The Silent Cry: A Novel?

Football in the Year 1860  Aug 10, 2008
The American edition of Oe's novel may be called "The Silent Cry," but a more accurate translation of the title would be "Football in the Year 1860 [or the Man'an era]," the year Ii Naosuke, famous for brokering a commercial treaty with the U.S., was assassinated by a group of samurai loyal to the Emperor. It is also the year, in the novel, when the great-granduncle of two brothers, Mitsusaburo and Takashi, led a peasant revolt in their ancestral village.

The decision to discard a more literal translation masks what Oe is trying to do here, as he continues to pile on parallels between 1860 and the early 1960s, when this novel is set. Favoring historical symbolism and mythological surrealism, the novel defies a summary that would make much sense to the reader. A skeletal outline would describe the rivalry between Mitsusaburo, who has left his handicapped child in an institution and returned to his childhood home with his alcoholic wife, and his younger brother Takashi, recently returned from America, who "seems to want his actions influenced by the 1860 affair."

Takashi idealizes the embroidered family legends of heroism and leadership, and he arrays the village youth into a cult-like group to challenge the hegemony of a local business magnate known, not coincidentally, as "the Emperor." The story is filled with grotesqueries and violence, from the opening description of a friend's suicide (which is presented in a disconcertingly risible manner) to the rape and death of a local girl (an event that Mitsusaburo believes is invented) to Mitsusaburo's apparent nonchalance when he realizes that Takashi is sleeping with his wife.

The result is a tale of Freudian weirdness in a claustrophobic mountain village that might remind readers of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. Among Oe's works, it's not as accessible (nor, in my view, as good) as "A Personal Matter" and stories like "Prize Stock" or "Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness." But, in spite of its outmoded surrealism, there's something compelling and fascinating about the deranged rivalry between the two brothers who hijack the attention of this peculiar, mythical community.
its all about mirrors  Jan 2, 2005
this is the first novel i read by kenzaburo oe. and its simply superb. the post war its brilliantly portraid in this book. when a couple of brothers return to their hometown, each one has some experiences that changes his vision of the world. but theres another aspect that i loved in it. there was a revolution a century ago, directed by their grandgrandfather. slowly, they go discovering more about this, and finally they mirror the characters and the revolution. its a success repeating itself. the time is a circle. Oe proves it brilliantly here. Its a bit hard to read, but its worth it. DO IT!
The Great Post-War Japanese Novel?  Sep 6, 2004
Many critics believe The Silent Cry (not it's translated title: which would be Footbal in the First Year of Mannen) is the great post-war Japanese novel, ranking above even Mishima's The Sea of Fertility tetraology.

If there's one thing that should be mentioned first about this novel, is that it achieves for Japan exactly what Voss does for Australia, and what The Tin Drum achieves for Germany . Like all of these, an epic landscape is evoked to explore the major issues, profoudnly yet simply handled. It also has the markings of a masterpiece, in that it reads like both a summary and yet at the same time an advancement on all that the author has said to date, on a canvas of a biblical size (a definition that, in my opinion, ought to extend the franchise to other masterpieces: Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom! or David Storey's Saville, for instance). This explores every facet of post-atomic, post-imperial Japan's inner life - all the more remarkable for being able to slice through the all-pervasive level of regimentation. It's also a wry commentary on the 'Emperor system' of thought that was so prevalent at the time, and led to the ritualistic suicide of Oe's friend, Yukio Mishima.
A difficult but brilliantly written novel  Jan 30, 2003
Oe in " The silent cry" deals with the perplexing problem of finding ones root. The novel is a story of about two brothers who return to their village, each for their own reasons.

The story deals with by the main characters search for answer to �how does a modern man communicate( in philosophical sense )?� One brother thinks, we can communicate by death and in our silence. The other wants to communicate by connecting his present with the past of the society.

It is a difficult novel due to the hard subject matter. But Oe does SPLENDID job in expounding the difficult issues through his excellent narrative.

a moribund, melodramatic piece of Japanese weirdness...  Sep 30, 2002
Despite all the glowing comments in previous this reviews I must confess that I really don't see how The Silent Cry can be judged as anything other than a strange (read: unbelievable, contrived), totally depressing piece of (otherwise well-written) literature. It compares poorly to some of Yukio Mishima's and Haruki Murakami's better works. Having lived in Japan for years I shudder to think what sort of image it projects about post-war Japanese youth.

The story is a bit complex. Generally it portrays the lives of dysfunctional brothers returning to their ancient country estate, and somehow making parallels between their lives and those of their great-grandfather and his brother during the time of the Meiji restoration (1860s). Some of the insights are interesting, but sadly these are buried in what can be described as a mess. The modern day (actually, circa 1960) brothers and the friends and family have an impossibly depressing, unfortunate lives. The wife is an alcoholic, children/siblings/friends commit suicide and/or suffer from horrible physical/mental anomalies. In this 300 page book no one, and I mean *no one*, so much as smiles. So you think the Japanese people are a nature-loving, inherently serene people? If so I suggest you do NOT read this book!

Having said all this, the story does pick up some pace towards the end (..after an extremely tedious first half). And generally speaking the author, and the translator, have produced nice prose. A shame it is all wasted on a strange story with neurotic (and uninteresting) characters.

Bottom line: time would be better spent on reading some better examples of modern Japanese literature. Best give The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Murakami) a try and forget The Silent Cry.


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