Shusaku Endo’s Deep River is a spiritual journey

A Hindu priest (left) performs a religious ritual with devotees in India’s Ganges river on a holy day. Endo’s book offers a unique Japanese perspective on Hindu spirituality. Photo: Reuters

Call me cynical, but I’m generally quite wary of literature that involves people travelling somewhere to have a spiritual awakening. And perhaps because of my Hindu upbringing, I’m even more sceptical when India becomes the setting for such events – it annoys me when the traditions and beliefs of my culture are all too often exoticised and made mawkish in such works.

When I initially read the synopsis of Deep River by Shusaku Endo (translated by Van C. Gessel), I prepared myself for exactly those feelings: the story is of a group of Japanese tourists who travel to the city of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges river, each in search of some form of personal salvation or redemption.

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