Thursday, November 01, 2012

Scandal - Shusaku Endo

65 year old Suguro, has just been awarded one of the most celebrated literary prize in Japan.  As the contemporaries, lavish praise on him and his writing, he know something is eluding him. One book that is yet to write, which could be his masterpiece. However,  a drunk women, supposed to be an artist, approach him, during the award dinner, claiming that she knows him as a regular visitor to Tokyo's red-light district. She must surely be mistaken ? A reputed writer, as a christian believer, Suguro, has made name for himself and someone surely is trying to malign him on the night of his receiving the award. 

The rumor spread through the publishing industry and couple of his friends , informed him about the going on.  He was sighted at the Shinjuku district known for 'love hotels' and brothels. Initially, he rejected these with his usual air as some one attempting to play with his image, but the continued appearance of his  doppelgänger disturbed him.  It was thus, he decided to investigate and bring his imposter exposed. He visits the exhibition of the artist, whom he met at the dinner where he find his portrait drawn at some ill-repute place. It was at this exhibition he befriend a middle aged lady Madam Naruse, who works as a volunteer at the children's hospital.  during multiple rendezvous over next few days, they discuss the dark side of human's desires and the involvement of Madam Naruse and her friend in some of those sadomasochistic affairs she is involved, after the death of her husband .

He appoint a school girl, who brings to his notice some of the new young living,  to help his wife in doing the house scores. It was after he started dreaming this girl, that made him to explore the other side of the life.  Despite, his personal rejection, he feared that he is unable to resist the temptation to bring the truth about what is going on and possibly expose imposter. It was again Madam Naruse, came to his help here, asking him to come to a Love Hotel to meet his imposter. While there, he see the young girl who works in his home, half naked lying on the bed, and the rest of the event was beyond what he could appreciate. He watches with horror , his own image, his alter ego living out the life he always feared and lied subdued within him for a long time.

Shusaku Endo's novel, examines the darker side of human life. The duality of the public image and the hidden dark side, which comes out unnoticed to the person himself. One has no control on his on adverse side, and its actions. At many a time, one can not comprehend their own behaviour. The revelation of his own darker side was a shock to Endo, at the same time a relief.  Endo, excels in this examination of duality in human life. Its this meditation, its this abandonment to the reality, its this unknown darker side of the human existence, which one tries to downplay, at discussion here. 

His prose is clear and precise, there is constant meditative style, which is I liked. The restrictive writing, even with a subject as delicate as this. Beyond the thriller-type narrative, what was notable was the subtle exploration of human psyche.  On a not so impressive side, Endo deploys the psychological angle to the tale introducing a professor, to give some legitimacy to some of the illogical plots. The novel has the twist with a reporter trying to expose the corrupt writer to the public and a sadomasochistic encounter with a suicide by the member of the circle, to get the story in line of a thriller.

This is a good book. most of the meditative style of writing is brilliant. It is also a brave attempt to look at one's own hidden side, even at the possibility of the reputation being hampered. I havent read a great deal of Endo, but the previous book "Deep River' also explored the subtle human mind. He is one writer, one ought read more.
Scandal ( 1986 )

Shusaku Endo ( translated from Japanese by Van C Gessel 1988)

Peter Owen Classics

237 Pages

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