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Silence Once Begun

A Novel

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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.

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.  

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 02, 2013 – The enigmatic silence of a wrongfully accused suspect is at the core of the new novel from Ball (The Curfew). In 1977 Japan, Oda Sotatsu is a mild-mannered thread salesman who falls in with a couple of wild characters—the charismatic Sato Kakuzo and the beautiful Jito Joo. After losing a wager to Kakuzo, Oda signs a document claiming responsibility for a series of mysterious disappearances that have baffled authorities in the region. Later, while on trial and in prison, rather than profess his innocence or defend himself, Oda stops speaking. Years later, a journalist, also named Jesse Ball, becomes fascinated with the case and attempts to track down and interview Oda’s family and friends. Most of the novel is written as transcripts of these interviews, which layer together, Rashomon-like, to form an increasingly mysterious and conflicted portrait of Oda and his alleged crime. This methodical presentation makes for coolly suspenseful reading, but it’s soon clear there is more underlying Ball’s investigation than meets the eye. For example, when he tracks down Joo, the normally dispassionate interviewer is overcome with emotion and makes a lengthy and unexpected personal confession. Even so, the truth remains elusive until the final pages. The novel is intriguing and offers a riveting portrait of the Japanese criminal justice system (a guard’s description of the execution procedure is particularly chilling); but how readers react to it will largely depend on whether they feel some of the final twists deepen or cheapen the material.
Silence Once Begun
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jan 28, 2014
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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