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THE ROADS TO SATA by Alan Booth Kirkus Star



Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking

The journal of a 2,000-mile, 128-day journey from one end of Japan to the other, this is shrewd, wise, humorous and beautifully written. Booth provides a rare picture of Japan's heart and soul. The trip begins in the northernmost tip of Hokkaido and ends at Sara, the southernmost island. Though he speaks Japanese, Booth is still the foreigner, gaijin. He is examined, stared and yelled at, poked and ignored, but just as often he experiences surprising kindness. His observations of these encounters are always perfectly distilled to their humorous or ironic essence. Booth has lived in Japan for seven years and can show us its ugly side as well--not all is harmony, rock gardens and Kabuki. The repressed violence, the pornography (even more pervasive than ours), the xenophobia, racism, sexism, pollution and rigidities are all laid out scrupulously. However, Booth's admiration and love of the land, its culture and people shines through all the imperfections. By hoisting a few beers with the ordinary people, he has learned more about their lives than a roomful of pundits ever will. Booth's achievement is to give us a comprehensive feel for this powerful and strange nation. He is literary stylist, sociologist, anthropologist and travel writer armed with a poet's vision. A wonderful work has resulted.