Shūsaku Endō

(1923 – 1996)

Shusaku EndoBiographical Sketch

Shūsaku Endō (Japanese: 遠藤 周作 Endō Shūsaku; Tokyo, Japan, March 27, 1923 – September 29, 1996) was a 20th-century Japanese author who wrote from the unusual perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. Together with Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Shōtarō Yasuoka, Junzo Shono, Hiroyuki Agawa, Ayako Sono, and Shumon Miura, Endō is categorized as one of the “Third Generation,” the third major group of writers who appeared after World War II.

In 1954, a year after completing his studies in France, he won the Akutagawa Prize for Shiroi Hito (White Men) cementing his reputation as an up-and-coming young Japanese fiction prose author.

His books reflect many of his childhood experiences, including the stigma of being an outsider, the experience of being a foreigner, the life of a hospital patient, and the struggle with TB. However, his books mainly deal with the moral fabric of life. His Catholic faith can be seen at some level in all of his books and it is often a central feature. Most of his characters struggle with complex moral dilemmas, and their choices often produce mixed or tragic results. His work may often be compared to that of Graham Greene. In fact, Greene himself labeled Endō one of the finest writers currently alive at the time.

While he lost out to Kenzaburō Ōe the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, he did obtain the Order of Culture the subsequent year.

Read more about Shūsaku Endō on Wikipedia.


Major Awards and Honors

Nihon Geijutsuin (Japanese Arts Academy)
  • 1981: Elected to Membership.
Order of Cultural Merit (Japan)
  • 1995
Noma Literature Prize (Japan)
  • 1980: “Samurai”



  • Shiroi Hito (1955)
    (White Man)
  • Kiiroi Hito (1955)
    (Yellow Man)
  • Umi to Dokuyaku (1958)
    (The Sea and Poison)
  • Obaka San (1959)
    (Wonderful Fool)
  • Kazan (1960)
  • Amarini Aoi Sora (1960)
  • Seisyo No Naka No Josei Tachi (1960)
  • Hechima Kun (1961)
  • Ukiyoburo (1964)
  • The Girl I Left Behind (1964)
  • Aika (1965)
  • Ryugaku (1965)
    (Foreign Studies)
  • Chinmoku (1966)
  • Ogon No Kuni (1970)
    (The Golden Country)
  • Sikai no Hotori (1973)
    (Upon the Dead Sea)
  • Fukai Kawa (1973)
    (The Deep River)
  • Kuchibue o Fuku Toki (1974)
    (When I Whistle)
  • Saigo No Junkyosya (1974)
  • Samurai (1980)
    (The Samurai)
  • Sukyandaru (1986)
  • Taihen Da
    (Good Grief!)
Short Stories
  • Aden Made (1954)
    (As far as Aden)
  • Stained Glass Elegies (1984)
  • The Final Martyrs (1994)
  • Five by Endo (2000)
Essays and Nonfiction
  • Korian Kanwa (1965)
    (Korian Essays)
  • Iesu no Shogai (1973)
    (A Biography of Jesus)
  • Kirisuto no Tanjo (1973)
    (Birth of Christ)
  • Rouen no Oka
    (Hill in Rouen)


A Favorite Quote


“Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.

Find more quotes by Shūsaku Endō on Goodreads.