Shūsaku Endō

Silence is a fascinating novel by the Japanese Christian novelist, Shūsaku Endō.  It is based upon true events concerning Jesuit missionaries from Portugal who began going to Japan in the 1500s for mission work.  The missionaries to Japan were able to establish a thriving beachhead of Christianity that grew to 300,000 Japanese believers.  But then Japanese leaders began persecuting Christians, including priests from other countries.

The novel contains the story of two Portuguese priests who come to Japan in search of their mentor, a Portuguese priest who had reportedly apostatized.  It is a poignant tale of their attempts to encourage and minister to Japanese Christians while at the same time avoiding capture by the Japanese authorities.  Ultimately, one of the two priests will be killed and the other captured.  The main character is forced to decide between apostatizing and hence freeing Japanese Christians from torture, or remaining steadfast to Christ.

The book raises more questions than it gives answers – questions regarding faith and doubt, regarding persecution and apostasy.  The book is well-written and powerful. 

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr  

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has been widely heralded as one of the best novels in the last year or so.  It has received wide acclaim and attention.  It is the story of a young girl, Marie-Laure, who goes blind when she is six.  She lives with her father in Paris.  Her father is a master locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.


In a coal mining town in Germany there is a young orphan boy by the name of Werner, who grows up in a small orphanage with his younger sister.  He is extremely intelligent and constructs a crude radio.  When World War II breaks out, both of their lives are changed forever, Werner becoming part of the Hitler Youth and Marie-Laure fleeing with her father to a reclusive town on the French coast, Saint-Malo.  The book goes back and forth between the two characters until they finally meet near the end of the book.  Doerr is a master writer and the novel is superb

River Rising

By Athol Dickson  

River Rising is a superb novel by Athol Dickson, a writer in Dallas, Texas, and the brother of our own Garrett Dickson. This is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. It is a thrilling adventure and at the same time it challenges us to live out our faith in Christ.


Imagine this scene: It is 1927 in the swamps of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. One day, out of the mist, a stranger appears in the town of Pilotsville, a town built on stilts and boardwalks because of the swampy waters. This stranger, Hale Poser, is looking for work. It turns out later that he had been orphaned and thinks that his roots are in this small town. He takes a job at the local hospital, established for African-Americans, but it becomes clear that he has a strong connection with God. And miracles tend to happen when he prays.


Not long after he begins working, a little baby is stolen and Hale Poser joins the search party in the swampy waters around the town. After Hale Poser does more digging, it turns out that other babies over the years had been taken. This leads Hale Poser on a search deep into the swampy waters of the Mississippi River before it hits the Gulf. He gets lost and stumbles, exhausted and near death, onto a slave colony, even in 1927. This remote outpost land had been reclaimed from the swamps and large levies built around it. Slaves were held and worked there. River Rising is the saga of what happens when Hale Poser is made a slave and later God uses in some remarkable ways.


This is a superb novel! You will find it hard to put down. It will grab you by the throat.