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Two Novels of Redemption

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Some of my favorite novels explore the theme of redemption--fertile ground for authors to delve into a character’s sense of moral self, the tangle of thoughts and motivations that enable her to marginalize wrongs or justify culpability. Mentioned here are a couple of character-driven narratives that artfully articulate humankind’s innate hopefulness that past wrongs can be rectified and personal guilt, absolved.

Reputations Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735216860
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 19th, 2017

Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s REPUTATIONS (translated by Anne McLean) places readers in the fictional world of Javier Mallarino, a renowned Columbian political cartoonist. Mallarino prides himself in exposing his country’s corruption and political scandals through his daily newspaper cartoon. He possesses the unwavering conviction that his drawings are vitally important for delivering potent truths, “like a stinger dipped in honey.” Years after one of his caricatures destroys the life of a prominent politician Mallarino becomes acquainted with the man’s alleged victim, and their discussions cause him to question the infallibility of his prior condemnation and the consequences of his influence. In an effort to rectify what might have been defamation Mallarino decides to go public with his doubts about the politician’s guilt, an act that will cause the media to turn on him, humiliating him in much the same way that his cartoons humiliated countless others in the past. Reputations is a fascinating study of a man whose entire sense of self-worth is his reputation—the very thing that he must sacrifice in order to redeem himself.


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Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics) Cover Image
By Shusaku Endo, William Johnston (Translated by), Martin Scorsese (Foreword by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250082244
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Published: Picador Modern Classics - January 5th, 2016

Reading these contemporary novels called to mind some of my favorite, older works that feature redemption as a central concern such as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s’ CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and William Faulkner’s ABSALOM ABSALOM. It also prompted my first reading of another classic, SILENCE by Shūsaku Endō (translated by William Johnston), reprinted earlier this year in advance of the Martin Scorsese film based on it. Silence is set in seventeenth century Japan where a jailed Portuguese priest, Father Rodrigues, must choose between defaming an image of Christ and refusing to do so, which will make him, in effect, complicit in the continued torture and death of Japanese peasants who have converted to Christianity. Endō’s novel is a close examination of the Father’s gradual and painful recognition that his prideful principles of faith are not more important than others’ lives. Father Rodrigues undergoes a transformation of conscience, an inherently solitary journey but one that Silence and the other books discussed here invite readers to share.