Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry is a 1967 novel by Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe. I struggled with this book, putting it down several times to pick up again later. It's bleak, and I didn't find it engaging at any level. I feel almost guilty about it, since it gets such praise, and I know better informed readers might get more out of the experience. I finished it out of sheer stubbornness.

from the back of the book:
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 aftereffects 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 it was first published in 1967. Powerful and daring, The Silent Cry is a thoroughly compelling classic of world literature.
Kirkus Reviews concludes,
Oe is dense, analytical, with a highly modern self-consciousness, though there's real nostalgia here for the dying traditions of pre-Westernized supermarket culture. A picture of fragmenting identity and social breakdown as brutalizing as the 20th century itself.


  1. I read one of his when he got the Nobel prize in 1994. Haven´t felt like repeating it. Some authors seem to write for professional readers, to be the subject of dissertations, rather than communicate with a wider audience. Like Proust. I have read several very interesting and amusing essays about his work but the work itself was impossible for me...

    1. I enjoyed Proust lol. I want to read the newer translation but not enough to actually buy them.

      With this one, I think there must be something I missed. I may just make myself feel better by blaming the translator.

  2. While the topic sounds interesting I think I'll go with your review. I like a book that makes me think but not one I have to struggle to finish.


    1. I'm not sure why I persevered with this one. I doubt I'll read more by him.