The second novel to appear in English by Kenzaburo Oe, a major writer of Japan's postwar generation, repeats many situations from A Personal Matter (1968) in a more suggestive, more intricately webbed philosophical novel. While Oe is more conventional than the older Kobo Abe, he's also an intellectual maze-maker of overlapping social and mythic systems. The Silent Cry explores the ideological conflict of two modern, cosmopolitan brothers who might be the two hemispheres of the Japanese mind. Taka, a former student activist, is impulsive, given to violence and obsessed with self-punishment and death. Mitsu, through whose one good eye we view the events of the novel, is "objective," establishmentarian, introspective - already depressed by the institutionalization of a brain-damaged baby and the bizarre and puzzling suicide of his best friend (an overriding motif) when Taka suggests they return to the village of their birth to "find their roots" by studying their ancestry and to "begin a new life." When Taka organizes the local young men in an uprising, Mitsu unmasks him as a pathetic game-player, forcing Taka's own suicidal hand. But postclimactic events reveal that the magnificent gesture (one thinks of Mishima) is the only means to purpose or progress, that legend and fact are indistinguishable. 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. (Kirkus Reviews)
The key work by the Nobel Prize winner, The Silent Cry encapsulates 'Japanese history, society and politics within a single, tight narrative' (Susan Napier)
Two brothers, Takashi and Mitsu, return from Tokyo to the village of their childhood. Selling their family home leads them to an inescapable confrontation with their family history. Their attempt to escape the influence of the city ends in failure as they realize that its tentacles extend to everything in the countryside, including their own relationship.
In 1994, Kenzaburo Oe was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Singling out The Silent Cry, the Nobel Committee stated that 'his poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament'. Kenzaburo Oe is one of the great writers of the century and The Silent Cry is his masterpiece.
About the Author
Winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in 1935, Kenzaburo Oé is the leading Japanese writer of his generation. He spent the 1960s in Paris where he came under the influence of Sartre. The Nobel Committee stated that 'his poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament'. Kenzaburo Oé is one of the great writers of the 20th century.