Van Gessel is Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Brigham Young University, where he also served as dean of the College of Humanities. He is a distinguished scholar of Japanese literature, including of the Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, six of whose novels (and two short story collections) Van has also translated. Endo writes hauntingly about the silence of God in the face of human suffering, but also about the compassion of Christ in the midst of that suffering. Van served as a consultant to Martin Scorsese for Scorsese’s 2016 movie adaptation of Endo’s novel Silence. And, in 2018, Van was honored by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun for his outstanding work in Japanese literature, promoting mutual understanding between the United States and Japan.
Interview by Matthew Wickman, Founding Director, BYU Humanities Center.
Produced and Edited by Brooke Browne and Sam Jacob.