Sunday, October 5, 2014

Silence Once Begun

"The story of Oda Sotatsu begins with a confession that he signed."
A confession that isn't true.
Then Oda Sotatsu stops talking.
In jail. At the trial. When he's condemned to die.
He never says a word.

Jesse Ball is determined to find out the reason why. So he interviews Oda Sotatsu's family, reprints the newspaper coverage from the trial, talks to the prison guards, and finally tracks down Jito Joo, the mysterious girl who faithfully visited Sotatsu through it all. 
In searching for a way out of my own troubles, I had found my way into the troubles of others, some long gone, and now I was trying to find my way back out, through their troubles, as if we human beings can ever learn from one another. To simply find out what had happened to Oda Sotatsu, that was the main thing. That was always the main thing. But if in learning that, I could see somehow farther....
Set in Japan, this novel reads like a literary documentary. Even though Oda Sotatsu remains illusive throughout, the mystery of his silence is oddly compelling. The author himself, acting as interviewer and scribe, becomes a character in his own novel. I thought it was a unique and interesting way to narrate a story and that it worked surprisingly well. This book, which is only 232 pages long, reads super fast. It's stylistic, and different, and worth checking out. I liked it a lot. I don't know what Jesse Ball's other novels are like, but I intend to find out.

Happy Reading!


  1. Is this one fiction or non-fiction? Sounds like an interesting one, and I love that it isn't 500+ pages long!!

    1. It's fiction, but is written so that it feels like a non-fiction/investigative book. Which made it a lot of fun to read.