Wonderful Fool : A novel by Shusaku Endo ; Translated from the Japanese by Francis Mathy
New York : Harper & Row, 1983. First American Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 237 pages ; 21 cm. $13.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding sound.
Translated from the Japanese by Francis Mathy
One of Japan's most distinguished writers of fiction today, Shusaku Endo has won international recognition for such masterpieces as Silence, The Sea and Poison, Volcano, and most recently, the widely acclaimed historical novel The Samurai.
In Wonderful Fool, an ungainly, horse-faced, bumbling, but immensely likable young French "missionary," Gaston Bonaparte (ironically a descendant of the ruthless little emperor), arrives in Tokyo as the guest of a typical middle-class, materialistic Japanese family.
Gas, however, is irresistibly drawn to victims, to the downtrodden in Japanese society. He nourishes a stray mongrel, saves the life of a good-hearted prostitute caught stealing a client's money in a sleazy hotel where he is spending the night, takes up with an old hermit and fortune teller, and finally befriends a desperate, cold-blooded killer, the ultimate challenge to his compassion.
How the Japanese receive this embodiment of Christian love—the Wonderful Fool of the title—makes up the story of what is at once a magical parable and a mordant satire of contemporary Japanese society. Full of humor yet deadly serious in its intent, Wonderful Fool opens a window onto the Japanese mind and spirit which only a Japanese writer, and "one of the finest living novelists" (Graham Greene), could have accomplished.
Born in Tokyo in 1923, SHUSAKU ENDO converted to Roman Catholicism after his parents divorced. Although often described as the "Japanese Graham Greene," he sees the French writers Mauriac and Bernanos as the main influences on his work.
Widely regarded as the foremost writer in Japan, Shusaku Endo has won a series of outstanding literary awards, including the Noma Prize for The Samurai. In 1981 he was elected to the Nihon Geijutsuin, the Japan Arts Academy. Mr. Endo is a prolific writer, author of many books and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. He lives in Tokyo, and pays frequent visits to the West.
In praise of Shusaku Endo
"Endo to my mind is one of the finest living novelists." —Graham Greene
"A writer of straightforward technique in the service of a passionate con-science." -—Geoffrey O'Brien, Village Voice
"Like all serious novelists, Endo prompts one not only to live with his fictions but to engage with his thought." —Irving Howe
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