A Bridge of Words
Views across America and Japan
Prolific, award-winning translator of classical and modern Japanese poetry Hiroaki Sato recorded his thoughts on American society in mainly two columns across 30-plus years, collected here for the first time.
This anthology of over 60 of Sato’s commentaries reflect the writer’s wide-ranging erudition and his unsentimental views of both his native Japan and his adopted American homeland. Broadly he looks at the Pacific War and its aftermath and at war (and our love of it) in general, at the quirks and curiosities of the natural world exhibited by birds and other creatures, at friends and mentors who surprised and inspired, and finally at other writers and their works, many of them familiar—the Beats and John Ashbery, for example, and Mishima—but many others whose introduction is welcome.
Sato is neither cheerleader nor angry expatriate. Remarkably clear-eyed and engaged with American culture, he is in the business of critical appraisal and translation, of taking words seriously, and of observing how well others write and speak to convey their own truths and ambitions.
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"Japan Times and Mainichi Daily News columnist, Hiroaki Sato, has left us with a thought provoking, educational and entertaining anthology of his columns, ranging from 1984 to 2017."
"These pieces, most of which appeared originally as columns in the Mainichi Daily News and the Japan Times, have a conversational informality that allows for unexpected digressions and interjections. “I am prejudiced against golfing courses and golf courses,” he announces, and explains why. He quotes a scientist’s argument for limiting wild geese populations— “When you see geese, they’re eating or they’re defecating”— and immediately responds: “Isn’t that what we human beings do as well, too well?” The back and forth is continual, and continually energizing."