Synopses & Reviews
From the remarkable, singularly and voraciously gifted novelist, poet, and artist ("A young genius who hits all of the right notes" —Chicago Tribune
), his first major hardcover publication: 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 Sotatsu 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, Jesse Ball, is a journalist, 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.
"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." Interview
“Jesse Ball’ investigates a series of disappearances, a wrongful conviction and a love story in modern-day Osaka, Japan. [He] makes readers’ heads spin yet again with a darker but more tempered version of his strange, almost whimsical multimedia creations....There’s no denying the fascination his aberrant storytelling inspires.” Kirkus Reviews
“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....Intriguing and offers a riveting portrait of the Japanese criminal justice system.” Publishers Weekly
About the Author
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.