Of silence, I can say only what I heard, that all things are known by that which they make or leave–and so speech isn’t itself, but its effect, and silence is the same.
–Jesse Ball, Silence Once Begun
In Jesse Ball‘s most recent novel, Silence Once Begun, Ball goes bravely into the spaces between things, the quiet pauses between our conversations, the assumptions made in the absence of evidence, and our constant obsession with knowing and noise.
Narrator and reporter Jesse Ball investigates a unique criminal case which shook a Japanese town, the case of Oda Sotatsu. Eight older women and men, between the ages of 50-70, have disappeared from villages, under mysterious circumstances. In the place of each resident, a playing card is found.
Oda Sotatsu, a quiet, hard-working young man, a wearer of “simple, muted clothing,” loses a bet, and signs a confession. When he confesses his involvement in the disappearances, his community is shocked, and they beg for more information. Where are their beloved elders? Are they still alive?