Jesse Ball’s new novel Silence Once Begun has just been released by Pantheon. His three previous novels are The Way Through Doors, Samedi the Deafness, and Curfew. He’s also written several works of verse. He won the 2008 Paris Review Plimpton Prize and is the recipient of a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. He teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA Writing Program.
Silence Once Begun concerns a Japanese fishing village where eight elderly residents have disappeared. Although he didn’t commit a crime, Oda Sotatsu signs a written confession prepared by Sato Kakuzo. He’s arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death, yet remains inexplicably silent throughout this ordeal. The novel is written as a series of transcripts of interviews with those who knew Oda, providing different versions of what may have happened.