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Deep River by Shusaku Endo

Deep River

by Shusaku Endo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3541330,811 (3.74)1 / 91



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In this novel, Endo reminds us that the faces of God are many and possibly within each of us. He gently nudges the reader to question if it is a good idea to get locked down too tightly into any specific religion, because we might forget that God's presence can be found everywhere, including the desolate and impoverished places described near the Ganges River in India. His writing is reflective and thoughtful. ( )
  autleaves78 | Jul 13, 2013 |
Another book I started with high hopes which failed to live up to my expectations. Endo's characters all end up seeming contrived and sometimes ridiculous in their actions and dialogue as the stories progress and they make their pilgrimages to the Hindu and Buddhist holy sites along the Ganges. I was hoping for some insight into Christianity as it is viewed and experienced in Japan and the Orient but was instead treated to an individual's ecumenistic dreams. And I think maybe he sets up some of his characters as straw men to let us all know what he thinks of modern materialistic Japan. The character's backgrounds are all somewhat interesting and I think Endo writes very well (or has been translated very well). However, no great events happen, no deep thoughts are offered, no great revelations are found, and ultimately, the book ends up being a rather boring read. I saw another review somewhere before I started reading this that said: "Deep River, Shallow Story" - I agree. It's not your everyday pulpish junk, so I bumped up the 2.5 stars to 3. I can't imagine spending time on another Endo work again. ( )
  cjyurkanin | May 22, 2013 |
I can't think of a single adjective that would do justice to this book or the feelings that it evoked within me. ( )
  cait815 | Apr 1, 2013 |
There is death. Yet, there is also life. There are long emotionally dead passages. Yet, there are also moments so charged with feeling they consume all in their path, carry them along for a bit and then leave behind ones willing to do anything to catch up. You have the search for reincarnated love ones, the search for emotional fulfillment, the search to reconcile death with life, the search for atonement, each person ever searching for something omnipresent in its never clearly defined state. And on it goes, this one period of time accepting all parts of life into its midst; the river mentioned in the pages embodies this, and will take everything in without spitting out any straightforward conclusions of its own. This is definitely a novel that won't get very far with a reader without some interpretation on their part; it is only fully enjoyed if one can see their own life experiences within the pages, and leave with a new understanding of just what it means to exist. ( )
1 vote Korrick | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is probably my favorite of the three of Endo's books I've read so far. It deals with similar religious issues he explores in the other two novels (I haven't looked what is the chronological order in which he wrote them) but seems to go deeper on this one, no pun intended. This is one of those books that once I finish it, I want to read again immediately.

Several Japanese go to India on a tour presumably to visit Buddhist sites- after all, India is the birth place of the Buddha. There is Mr. Isobe who's lost his wife Keiko after a long period of suffering in the hospital. But before dying she tells him that she will be reincarnated as a young girl; so he goes to India searching for his wife. In the process he comes to realize how much he took his wife for granted, and that he didn't become closer to her only until the last months when she was sick in the hospital.

Then there is the case of Naruse Mitsuko who, as a wealthy young student, lived frivolously and with her clique of friends made fun of a young, shy man named Otsu. She actually seduces only to reject him- all for fun. She marries a young, rich guy but nothing in the world satisfies her, but she's a total non-believer. At some point she learns that Otsu has joined a seminary to become a priest and that he is in France. He actually convinces her husband to go there for their honeymoon, and leaves her husband in Paris to enjoy the shows while she goes to the country, presumably to visit the locations of a novel she'd read while in college. She actually goes to visit with him and learns that he's having difficulty in the seminary because his Catholic belilefs do not concord those with the traditional church.

Another traveler is Mr. Numada, a writer of children's stories about animals. He had been very sick with a pulmonary disease who would keep a bird in his house- his wife did not like that at all. But when he is sick, she brings him a Myna bird to keep him company. The bird, in a strange turn of events, dies on the day that he decides to go through a critical operation. He is going to India too- in search of peace.

Finally, there is Kiguchi, suffering from the aftereffects of having fought in Burma. He went through a lot during the retreat of the Japanese forces- death and starvation all around him. He carries that burden, and the recollection of his close friend who actually ate human flesh to save Kiguchi.

The best parts of the book are the inner struggles of these souls in their search for some resolution that will give meaning to their lives. Endo deals again solidly with the issues of the Christina faith within the Japanese culture. ( )
  xieouyang | Dec 25, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shusaku Endoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gessel, Van C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Deep river, Lord: I want to cross over into campground.
Negro Spiritual
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Yaki imo-o. Yaki imo. Piping hot yaki imo-o.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Original title: 深い河
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In India, four Japanese tourists converge on the River Ganges in search of absolution. The novel probes their consciences, from Isobe, grieving the death of the wife he ignored in life, to Kugachi, haunted by wartime memories of a man who saved his life by eating human flesh, then drank himself to death to forget. An analysis of the importance of religion.… (more)

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