Deep River by Shusako Endo

I have become a big fan of Shusaku Endo.  For those of you who don’t know who he was, he was one of Japan’s premier novelists, some have called him the Graham Greene of Japan.  At any rate I have recently completed my second of his novels and will be looking to find others that he wrote.  Unfortunately he is no longer with us in this world so we will not be blessed with further stories to challenge and encourage us.

In this book, Deep River, Endo leads us on a soul finding journey through the experiences and life stories of five very different individuals, Isobe, Mitsuko, Numada, Kiguchi and Otsu. These individuals are all looking for something elusive and in their varied paths converge upon the same tourist journey in India and specifically at the holy river Ganges. Their stories have taken them through many painful experiences and all over the world…but it is here at the “river of humanity” that journeys find an end, and maybe a new beginning.

Endo was a Japanese Christian, which adds a breadth to his view of God and all things sacred, expanding beyond what traditional western Christianity is willing to consider. It is precisely this breadth, but also an incredible depth of understanding into the redemptive life and death of Christ that is applied in this fantastic story, which makes it so wonderful.  Some have not appreciated this work of Endo’s as compared to other great books by him, but in this book, as well as in Silence (another fantastic work of his) I find his genius at work coalescing that breadth and depth into a powerful and meaningful story. As with the other title mentioned above, Endo’s last chapter is where the punch of the story is felt. You may be tempted to put the book down at many places along the way, I know I did.  But luckily I picked it up again. However, Endo’s genius and depth of insight are worth the wait and it all comes together at the end, so hold on and finish this one.  The picture of Christ is clear!

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