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Silent Cry (Five Star) Paperback – May, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews

Review

Somehow - and this is what gives his art such unquestionable stature - Oe manages to smuggle a comic thread in all this tragedy Independent Though thoroughly Japanese, Oe, in the range of hope and despair he covers, seems to me to have in him a touch of Dostoevsky Henry Miller A new pinnacle in postwar Japanese fiction Yukio Mishima Oe piles copious and inventive misery onto his hero before allowing him enlightenment and redemption. -- Jake Kerridge Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Five Star
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpents Tail (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852426020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852426026
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,015,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Kenzaburo Oe's "The Silent Cry" is a masterpiece. No two ways about it. It's a dark, complex, and difficult piece of work and not easy to digest unless you have a modicum of knowledge of Japanese socio-economic history. The spirit of revival of the feudal uprising of 1860 is the central motif that renders the dialectical relationship and the unspeakable horror visited upon the two Nedokoro brothers, Mitsu and Takashi, ultimately comprehensible. While radical younger brother Takashi needs to relive the heroic (real or imagined) past of his great granduncle to bring a measure of validity to his own existence, older brother Mitsu's life crumbles when he sires a horribly retarded child whom he institutionalizes and then fails to come to terms with the ritualistic suicide of his best friend. So does Mitsu's marriage to his wife, Natsumi, who takes to the bottle and appears headed for disaster until brother-in-law Takashi imbues her with fire and converts her to his cause. But there's no happy ending and she's cruelly let down. Takashi's rabid vendetta against the Emperor, the Korean supermarketeer, and his cruelty towards his disciples is a perversion in his search for truth. Mitsu's inability to break out of his self imposed inner exile, his refusal to connect with the past and his corrosive negativism poisons everything about him, including his marriage to Natsumi, which is wryly but painfully observed. Oe employs the imagery of the dark encroaching forest over the valley to evoke a dangerous sense of foreboding that builds to a shattering climax when shocking family secrets are revealed but there's no relief, forgiveness or healing in the aftermath.Read more ›
1 Comment 27 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
It has been said by some that to know a country is to read its novels; far better than to read its (manufactured) history. Novels too are manufactured but novels are more likely to expose the emotional and spiritual "truth" of the country concerned. In THE SILENT CRY the writer OE covers much historical, emotional, social, Japanese ground but does it in such a way as to make it a wonderfully entertaining journey for the reader. I for one would love to read a Freudian criticism of it. For example, a recurring motif is suicide, in various forms, one being hanging and that image is conveyed by a the anti-hero's best friend who removed all his clothes, painted his head red, shoved a cucumber up his arse and then hanged himself; another being the anti-hero's brother who shot himself in the head the remains of which reminded the brother of a pomegranate. Such vivid imagery recurs throughout this novel. Another distinguishing feature of it is its lack of cliches, its almost poetic prose, poetic in the sense of dense. You daren't skip a phrase let alone a line. It is a rich read. Historically, the novel covers the transition from an agrarian village life to the impact of the supermarket, racism, the vulnerability of the Japanese economy (this written in 1966- in 2001 have the Japanese finally faced up to real economic reform?)foreigners, and on the cover, an artistic representation of the Hiroshima ground zero. The one-eyed hero is self-effacing and has an alcoholic wife, retarded son and is a cuckold. His brother is vain, hostile, proud, an adulterer who has sex with his retarded sister. It is true that it is reminiscent of the Cain and Abel story or the Brothers Karamazov and I think it deserves mention in that mythical company.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The Silent Cry is Oe's triumph. It questions the stories and histories that build our identity. In the story we learn that what really happened in the past is not nearly as important as what people think happened, and the lies our myths perpetuate. We are at the mercy of our history. We are controlled, not by the Gods, but by the stories of our past.
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By A Customer on September 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
This novel is indeed a masterpiece. Oe shows why he's a revered writer. The book, which is told through the eyes of Mitsu, who seems to be searching not only for peace of mind but also closure to several tragic but unresolved happenings in his life. Oe continues to pull us in with the introduction of several very interesting characters and events including a riot among the village peasants. It builds almost invisibly to a crescendo and a remarkable end. This book is a masterpiece
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Format: Paperback
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.
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