Silence Once Begun

Silence Once Begun : A Novel

3.66 (2,138 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the celebrated author of "The Curfew" ("A spare masterwork of dystopian fiction" "--The New York Times Book Review"), Jesse Ball's "Silence Once Begun" is an astonishing novel of unjust conviction, lost love, and a journalist's obsession.
Over the course of several months, eight people vanish from their homes in the same Japanese town, a single playing card found on each door. Known as the "Narito Disappearances," the crime has authorities baffled--until a confession appears on the police's doorstep, signed by Oda Sotatsu, a thread salesman. Sotatsu is arrested, jailed, and interrogated--but he refuses to speak. Even as his parents, brother, and sister come to visit him, even as his execution looms, and even as a young woman named Jito Joo enters his cell, he maintains his vow of silence. Our narrator, a journalist named Jesse Ball, is grappling with mysteries of his own when he becomes fascinated by the case. Why did Sotatsu confess? Why won't he speak? Who is Jito Joo? As Ball interviews Sotatsu's family, friends, and jailers, he uncovers a complex story of heartbreak, deceit, honor, and chance.
Wildly inventive and emotionally powerful, "Silence Once Begun" is a devastating portrayal of a justice system compromised, and evidence that Jesse Ball is a voraciously gifted novelist working at the height of his powers.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 145.29 x 223.01 x 26.42mm | 399.16g
  • India
  • English
  • 0307908488
  • 9780307908483
  • 408,855

Review quote

Praise for "Silence Once Begun"
"Remarkable. . . a clear nod to "The Trial." . . not unlike the images that string together the similarly enigmatic quagmires of W. G. Sebald. . . a perfection of [Ball's] style . . . realism distilled to its barest essentials."
"--"Michael H. Miller, "The NY Observer
"Jesse Ball's "Silence Once Begun" resists the standard narrative tropes of contemporary novels. . . As in Kafka's "The Trial," the justice of "Silence Once Begun" is both tragic and absurd. . . Ball has built in a few genuinely surprising twists that exist solely because of how the story is structured. That's an accomplishment; "Silence Once Begun" is a fascinating project in which almost everything is stripped away but the contradictory stories people tell."
"--"Carolyn Kellogg, "The LA Times
"A Kafkaesque premise rests at the center of Jesse Ball's intriguing fourth novel, "Silence Once Begun." . . Ball's calculated use of silence is masterful, and the novel haunts us, like any unsolved crime."
""Silence" incorporates a vast array of styles: Ball's musings, interview transcripts, other characters' accounts of the case and even a few Sebaldian photographs. Throughout, there are many questions about both what is said and what is left unsaid; motivation, memory and reliability all come under scrutiny. . . What had been a taut crime story stands revealed as something much more ominous."
"--Time Out New York
""Ball, who is perhaps the closest contemporary American writer we have to Italo Calvino in ear and mind, excels at wrapping the reader around an empty center--a quiet so potent that it is like the Cagean notion that it is not silence that accentuates sound, but sounds that define the silence."
"--"Christopher Bollen, "Interview"
"And so the beguiling and instantly classic "Silence Once Begun" exists to fill in a missing part of the world. A part which, on further inspection, was never there in t
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About Jesse Ball

Jesse Ball is the author of three previous novels, including "Samedi the Deafness, " and several books of verse, bestiaries, and sketchbooks. His awards include the 2008 "Paris Review" Plimpton Prize; his verse has been included in the Best American Poetry series. He gives classes on lucid dreaming and lying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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Rating details

2,138 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 21% (451)
4 37% (800)
3 30% (636)
2 10% (210)
1 2% (41)
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