Silence was published in 1966 and is often regarded as Endo's finest achievement. It won the Tanizaki prize in Japan the year it was published. Silence tells the story of a young Portuguese priest, sent to Japan in the 1600s when Christians in Japan are being heavily persecuted. The narrator sees suffering all around him and questions his faith and very belief in God's existence. Above all, God's silence reigns supreme. The novel is a fictionalized account of real events that took place in Japan following a golden period of Christianity, a time period in which remaining Christians were persecuted and tortured in a largely successful attempt to rid Japan of foreign influence.
A Japanese film version was released in 1971, while a new adaptation by American director Martin Scorsese is planned for release in 2016, starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Ken Watanabe.