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Deep River Paperback – 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Japanese novelist Endo combines a harsh critique of the emptiness in modern lives with a religious vision of spiritual rebirth.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A trip to India becomes a journey of discovery for a group of Japanese tourists playing out their "individual dramas of the soul." Isobe searches for his reincarnated wife, while Kiguchi relives the wartime horror that ultimately saved his life. Alienated by middle age, Mitsuko follows Otsu, a failed priest, to the holy city of Varanas, hoping that the murky Ganges holds the secret to the "difference between being alive and truly living." Looking for absolutes, each character confronts instead the moral ambiguity of India's complex culture, in which good and evil are seen as a whole as indifferent to distinction as the Ganges River, which washes the living and transports the dead. This novel is a fascinating study of cultural truths revealed through a rich and varied cast. Endo, one of Japan's leading writers, (The Final Martyrs, LJ 9/1/94) skillfully depicts the small details of life, investing them with universal significance. Highly recommended.
Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081121320X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811213202
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful story of 5 people searching for the inner peace that has eluded them throughout much, if not all, of their lives. The cause of their inner turmoil comes from a variety of sources but their emptiness and incompleteness is very real. Shusaku Endo introduces us to each of them seperately and then has them all, for seperate reasons, journey to India. They are in a guided tour that will supposedly show them a number of Buddhist shrines and historical sites. Their trip leads them to the Ganges River where they initially off at and then are all drawn to its' sacredness. The author gives us a serene glimpse of a sort of peace descending upon the 5 pilgrims. It may not be the peace they sought or would recognize, but it seems to be the peace they needed.

Shusaku Endo is a Japanese Christian who writes challengely about his own faith. To me, the core of his message in "Deep River" is the universal nature of faith and the universal nature of God. He exists for all of us but we come to know Him through the religion of our culture. Thus the Hindus, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists, etc are all seeking the same ultimate oneness with God (i.e.; peace) but they are each traveling different paths outlined through them in a theology passed along through the millennia. To illustrate his point, Endu shows us the five seperate tales of redemption and has them all come to salvation at a Hindu holy site. God DOES work in mysterious ways.
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Format: Paperback
Reading this novel by Shusaku Endo was a great experience, a spiritual experience to be precise. It is like a pilgrimage to the holy river Ganges which Christians should consider pagan and unchristian. Besides, the filth, pollution and the unhygienic surroundings are all there. But there is a surrounding aura of love, peace and regeneration. Ganges, the Mother of India despite all filth, is a mother with plenitude and gentleness. This novel is the story of a group of Japanese tourists to India. The various characters are brought to light in the background of the teeming life and activity around Ganges in the city of Varanasi. Each character has a past that is heavy on the person. The river Ganges called 'the river of humanity' and 'the river of love' has a great depth of meaning for each one of them. It is indeed a deep river from which they all gain consolation, liberation and a new birth. The characters like Isobe, Kiguchi, Numanda, Mitsuko and Otsu vary in their backgrounds and interests. Most of them do not have much in common except for Mitsuko and Otsu. Each of them has a story and their lives do not cross much. The plot of the novel in this respect is most unusual. All of them converge on the banks of river Ganges in pursuit of rejuvenation.
India, where the ancient civilization flowered on the banks of the great river Indus, serves as the backdrop for the novel. Most of the events take place in Varanasi, on the banks of the river Ganges in the months of October-November 1984.
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Format: Hardcover
Endo takes leads you into to the lives and hearts of 5 Japanese tourists. Their journeys will amaze and intrigue you, and when you come out on the other side, you will realize that he has led you on a journey through your own soul; a masterpiece. Prerequisite: SILENCE
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Format: Paperback
This novel is nothing short of remarkable. The dowdy, uneducated, and banal Mitsu comes to embody the only thing that can elevate every one of us beyond the base and undignified morass we all seemingly inhabit. That thing, of course, is selfless love or in a word, compassion. This book wasn't a "good read". No. It was more than that. It actually enabled something in me that I believed had long ago disappeared to reemerge. It was there lying latent within me; I think that might be the case with a good number of people.
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Format: Hardcover
During a tour in India, five very different Japanese characters meet near the holy Ganges river: a man who grieves the death of a wife he had neglected; a woman bitten by her own cynicism and growing sense of inner void; a Japanese man who disaffection for the Christian life he adopted leads him to seek spiritual renewal elsewhere; and a former Japanese solider still haunted by the memories of atrocities in war-time Japanese-occupied Burma. Shusaku Endo masterfully builds up these full bodied characters through deft brushstrokes of key passages in their lives. Individual chapters show the inner turmoil and personal changes which lead these characters to their encounter (or re-encounter) in India, including a young Japanese who becomes disatisfied with the Christian life to which he had converted in his early youth and later followed in France; a widower in quest of the soul of her husband; and others.
Looking at a few quotes extracted from a dialogue between two Japanese characters in the novel will give you a sense of the encounters and re-encounters between individuals and the cross-cultural encounters, all of which are a strong feature of the play. In this dialogue which takes place in Paris, a Japanese woman talks to Otsu, one of the main characters who became a Christian early in his life in Japan.
The woman declares: "...It makes my teeth stand on edge just to think of you as a Japanese believing in this European Christianity nonsense." Otsu replies: "I've been here three years. For three years I have lived here and I have tired of the way people think. The ways of thinking that they've kneaded with their own hands and fashioend to meet the workings of their hearts..they're ponderous to an Asian like me. I can't blend in with them. And so everyday is hell for me...
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