Navigating Deep River

New Perspectives on Shūsaku Endō's Final Novel

Edited by Mark W. Dennis & Darren J. N. Middleton

Subjects: Asian Literature, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Comparative Religion
Paperback : 9781438477961, 350 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438477978, 350 pages, April 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Foreword: The Myths of Ganga
Julian Crandall Hollick

Introduction: A Novel We Have Loved
Mark W. Dennis and Darren J. N. Middleton

Part One: Historical and Comparative Approaches

1. Navigating Deep River through the Lens of Buddhist Thought
Mark W. Dennis

2. A Gaze Turned Inward: Perspectives from the Orient
Mini Chandran

3. Japan's Orient and Animal Theology in Endō Shūsaku's Deep River
Zhange Ni

4. Religion and Violence in Deep River
Ronald Green

5. Endō Shūsaku: The Long Road to the Deep River
Mark Williams

Part Two: Literary and Theological Approaches

6. Catholic Convergences in Deep River
Mark Bosco and Christopher Wachal

7. Shūsaku Endō and Flannery O'Connor on the Grotesque
Elizabeth Cameron Galbraith

8. From "Catholic" to "catholic": Arriving at Deep River
Maeri Megumi

9. Deep River as Endō's Book of Job: Gathering a Community of Sufferers at the Water's Edge
Van C. Gessel

10. Mitsuko, That's Me: Autobiographical Space in Endō Shūsaku's Final Novel
Justyna Weronika Kasza

11. Imagining India: Traversing Deep River with Enami and Ōtsu
P. A. George

12. Endō Shūsaku and Religious Pluralism
Emi Mase-Hasegawa

13. Endō Shūsaku's Process Panentheism
Darren J. N. Middleton

14. Japanese Sensibility, and Transcendence in Deep River
Dennis Hirota

Afterword: Deep and Wide: Tourists and Pilgrims in the Shallows
S. Brent Plate

For Further Reading

An interdisciplinary dialogue with Shūsaku Endō’s last novel offering new perspectives on Japanese culture, Christian doctrine, Hindu spiritualities, and Buddhist worldviews.


In Navigating Deep River, Mark W. Dennis and Darren J. N. Middleton have curated a wide-ranging discussion of Shūsaku Endō's final novel, Deep River, in which four careworn Japanese tourists journey to India's holy Ganges in search of spiritual as well as existential renewal. Navigating Deep River evaluates and probes Endō's decades-long search to find the words to explain Transcendent Mystery, the difficult tension between faith and doubt, the purpose of spiritual journeys, and the challenges posed by the reality of religious pluralism in an increasingly diverse world. The contributors, including Van C. Gessel who translated Deep River into English in 1994, offer an engaged and patient exploration of this major text in world fiction, and this anthology promises to deepen academic appreciation for Endō, within and beyond the West.

At Texas Christian University, Mark W. Dennis is Professor of East Asian Religions. At Texas Christian University, Darren J. N. Middleton is John F. Weatherly Professor of Religion. They are the coeditors of Approaching Silence: New Perspectives on Shūsaku Endō's Classic Novel. Dennis is also the translator of Prince Shōtoku's Commentary on the Śrīmālā Sutra, and Middleton has written and edited many other books, including George Eliot: Illuminated by the Message.


"…this is a unified set of papers—both readable and intellectually enjoyable for those interested in modern Japanese literature, literary theology, and any aspect of Endō's life and work … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"This volume contextualizes, delineates, and articulates the complex religious/theological/spiritual dimensions of Deep River and its rich intertextual, interpersonal, psychosocial, and literary aspects. There are few edited volumes in which so many experts focus on a single Japanese text in this sustained manner, and this stands as a model of how to do so deftly and productively. " — David C. Stahl, author of Social Trauma, Narrative Memory and Recovery in Japanese Literature and Film