Miracles, by Sono Ayako
Miracles, a minor classic of Japanese literature, is a major contribution to fiction in pursuit of the supernatural. Sono Ayako's searching novel centers on Polish martyr Maximilian Kolbe, the "saint of Auschwitz." She retraces the extraordinary feats of this Conventual Franciscan-from his mission to Japan to the concentration camp where Kolbe offered up his life to save a man condemned to death. Through the veil of fiction Ayako meditates on the nature of self-sacrifice and the possibility of believable miracles in a disenchanted world. In her preface to Miracles she writes: "Before he died, this priest flung a tough question like a red-hot iron rod at the dried-up soul of modern Man. The question was, 'what does it mean for us to love one another?'"
Sono Ayako (b. 1931) is one of postwar Japan's most prolific writers. Her fiction was shortlisted for the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. Besides Miracles, only Watcher from the Shore and No Reason for Murder have been translated into English.