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Kiku's Prayer: A Novel (Weatherhead Books on Asia) [Kindle Edition]

Shusaku Endo , Van C. Gessel

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A beautifully faithful and rich depiction of 19th century Japan. Book Junkie Joint Deftly plotted and well researched, the novel is tinged with affection for Nagasaki -- Joseph S. O'Leary The Japan Times A rewarding journey. New Pages A powerful and suspenseful read. -- Todd Shimoda Asian Review of Books A wonderful, poignant and beautiful work of historical fiction - highly recommended! Historical Novels Review


Endo Shusaku was a renowned twentieth-century Japanese author who wrote from the unusual perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. His work is often compared to that of Graham Greene, who himself considered Endo one of the century’s finest writers. A historical novel set in the turbulent period between the fall of the shogunate and the Meiji Restoration, Kiku’s Prayer embodies themes central to Endo’s work, including religion, modernization, and the endurance of the human spirit. In Japan, the book is considered one of his late masterpieces and has never before been translated into English.

Endo’s novel is told through the eyes of Kiku, self-assured young woman from a rural village who falls in love with Seikichi, a devoted Catholic man. Practicing a faith still banned by the government, Seikichi is imprisoned and forced to recant under torture. Kiku’s efforts to reconcile her feelings for Seikichi and the sacrifices she makes to free him mirror the painful, conflicting choices Japan faced as a result of exposure to modernity and the West. Endo’s nuanced view of history is very much on display in this novel: Seikichi’s persecution exemplifies Japan’s insecurities toward the West, and Kiku’s tortured yet determined spirit represents the nation’s resilient soul. Yet Kiku’s Prayer is much more than a historical allegory. It acutely renders one woman’s troubled encounter with passion and spirituality at a transitional time in her life and in the life of her people.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 725 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 330 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0231162820
  • Verlag: Columbia University Press (25. Dezember 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #551.435 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Kiku's Prayer 4. Januar 2013
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Kiku's Prayer is set at the moment Japan was reaching out to modernity, in a period of immense fracture, when the nations own view of itself was becoming more divided as it faced a major internal change and also had to confront how it was perceived by the western world. It is at this point that Endo has chosen to set his tale of love and sacrifice, this is a tale of Kiku, a confident brash young woman who falls head over heels in love with Seikichi, an abhorred Kirishitan, a practising Catholic in a land where Christianity is illegal. At the start of this book the Japanese Christians are pretty much ignored, as long as they keep a low profile there seems to be a tacit agreement to let things be. This comes to an abrupt halt after a French priest, with a mission to locate any native Christian followers left from the last purges*. After much searching & upsetting the local authorities during the searching, he finally locates a village of believers. The believers want the priest to say mass & to perform more of the rituals of their catholic faith, this leads to a confrontation with the authorities. The Government respond by having the Christians rounded up & given the option of renouncing their belief or being punished, this ends up with them being exiled from their village and after continued pressure and refusal to renounce torture.

Whilst this is happening Kiku, who is passionately in love with Seikichi, although she doesn't understand his faith, is desperate to find him, this leads to her meeting a minor and corrupt official who, after forcing her to have sex with him, makes her give him money which he says he will give to Seikichi to make life easier for him. Kiku willing to do anything to help Seikichi has to sell her body to raise the necessary funds which the corrupt official pockets for himself.

Although there is hope in this book, the Christians due to pressure from the outside world do get released and sort of get their lives back, but Kiku never fulfils her dreams of a life with Seikichi, as what she goes through to help him eventually kills her. This is a really powerful book that questions not only ones faith, but what would you do for the love of someone, although I suppose at the end of the day it's the same question, it's just a matter of where your love is directed, for Seikichi this was God, although mainly in the form of Santa Maria. Only towards the end of his exile did he realise a love for Kiku, at this point to late - Kiku whose love was only for Seikichi was dead and to her, whilst she was alive, Santa Maria appeared as the rival, the point at which his love was fixed. It was only towards the end that she shared an understanding with this saint, as women who had both lost people they loved and through this awareness reached some kind of redemption.

*This book is based on a real event the "Fourth Persecution of Urakami" which happened around the start of the Meiji period, and came about when the villagers who had secretly been practising their faith for around 250 years met the missionary priests and no longer wanted to remain silent about their faith, this led them to a direct confrontation with the government through their local representatives. In 1867, 68 villagers were imprisoned marking the beginning of the "Fourth Persecution". During the following year another 114 were exiled. Whilst this was happening Japan itself was going through major change as the old feudal system was overthrown & with it the warrior class. This didn't do anything to help the Christians as the new Meiji government kept the prohibition of the Christian faith, with around 3400 being exiled. After five years of exile and pressure from nations like England, the USA, France etc., 1,930 were returned home. Of the original number arrested 662 died through disease & maltreatment (torture, starvation etc) and another 808 never returned or were accounted for, just missing.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Kiku's Prayer 18. August 2014
Von Regina von Burg - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I love anything written by Shusaku Endo but, unfortunately, I do not read Japanese.
I found the translation of this story severely lacking, as it turned a very moving recount of tragic personal and historical events into a mediocre read at best. Maybe the translator was being extra careful to be true to the original text! What a shame!
5.0 von 5 Sternen A truly wonderful book 1. Mai 2014
Von Hank - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Having read all of the translated works of this terrific writer, I was looking forward to this new release. For me, it was just wonderful. Not only is Endo's latest translation into English a great novel and a gripping story, the tragedy of the novel's central character Kiku is inspiring and enlightening in a spiritual way as well. I won't spoil what "Kiku's Prayer" is, but suffice it to say that it is at the very heart of Christianity and the suffering of the martyrs. The novel includes historical setting and fictional characters in a truly wonderful mix to produce an inspiring read. Very highly recommended.
4.0 von 5 Sternen He is a good writer and it kept me interested though not particularly ... 10. Juli 2014
Von Jean Ann Fausser - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
If you a planning on taking a trip to Japan and want to read some historical fiction as background this is worthwhile but not comprehensive at all. I think there are other novels that more sweeping in scope but this one offers a unique view into a particular period and issue in history. He is a good writer and it kept me interested though not particularly enthralled.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Indispensable Endo 1. Dezember 2013
Von El Tigre TA Esmitz - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This recently translated novel by Endo is a treat. Rather than write about many subjects, throughout his career Endo wrote about only a few, returning to similar themes again and again to discover new meanings and resonances. Thus this novel is, like all his work, about Japan, faith, persecution, goodness, and silence.
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