From Soraya: The Melancholy of Haruo Satō

Haruo Satō

Today I have another guest post from my Spanish speaking friend, Soraya Murillo Hernandez. Today she shares the translation of her article on the work of Haruo Satō.

Sato was a Japanese novelist and poet active during the Taishō and Shōwa periods of Japan. His works are known for their explorations of melancholy. Thank you Soraya for introducing me to this new writer. You can find many of his works on Amazon here.

From Soraya Murillo Hernandez:

Haruo Satō was one of the most influential writers of Japanese literature in the second quarter of the 20th century. It is the first time that they translate their works into Spanish.

In the first pages of the book you can read a biography of the author. This anthology gathers five stories from his first years written between 1917 and 1929. The House of the Spanish Dog, the work that launched the career of Satō, will be the first story we read.

Before following the review, I want to make a small paragraph. Japanese literature always has a character of moral teaching, so in these stories we will find that background. The Tao is the way, there is no goal or anything like that, just choose the path. The protagonist wanders a path chosen by his dog, and is happy and open to explore anything that life brings him. That road will lead to a house which will no longer belong to this world. A story full of magic.

The second story is entitled “A Beautiful City.” A painter will tell us the story of a Utopian city that should be built in Tokyo, but to live there future inhabitants must meet certain conditions. An old architect, the painter and his millionaire friend will be the protagonists. Dreams that are sometimes the engine that drives people to continue living.

That very Japanese background of submission and acceptance, with a certain lesson that sometimes morality should be ignored for the greater good. It’s wrong to lie, but if it works for good, is it still wrong?

We will arrive at the third one that gives title to the book “The Demonic Bird.” More than a story, it has the form of a legend. Whoever narrates it to us will be a Japanese traveler who one day explored the interior a wild land. We will enter the world of superstition, and in a way reminds us of the trials that were made in the West to witches.

For the Japanese, an animal inhabited by a spirit is usually a demon that takes that form, but they fear more to who can dominate them than to the bird itself; after all, it is the power of the entity and not the physical attributes that can cause damage. A cursed bird, but in the end it is always the people who caused the sadness. The child finds beauty in the natural world, but when people get involved, the pain continues. Our need to own and dominate creates misfortune.

I make a break in these wonderful stories. How can we be guided through the diffuse world of the Eastern tradition? The oriental culture is rich in symbolism. Each color, relationship and object in a story, a message in itself.

On the other hand, it is a fundamental pillar in the Japanese mentality, one of its moral bases, the cult of the ancestors that unite them to their land. For them, Japan is not just the islands, the territory where they live and feed and do business or whatever it is like the rest in our countries: it is the land linked to the ancestors, where the ashes that have joined that land remain and they are part of it.

That is why they are connected to the past, honoring the ancestors, and have a belief in a more unified spiritual energy that encompasses all those we know in the West as distinct. In this rich culture nothing is always bad or good, only our reactions and responses determine it.

Fourth story “The Mystery of the Fan.” In Taiwan, in a city that little by little was moving away from the sea, people tell the old story of an exotic house in ruins and the misfortune of its inhabitants. A story so many times told that in the end it ended up being a myth.

The author narrates it to us as if it were a typical tale of Chinese ghosts, but as always, reality overcomes fiction and in itself hides a sad tragedy. The author has chosen to use the idea of ​​a ghost as a provocation, but the true story is very different … And we will close the book with “Crónica de Nonchalant.”

The inhabitants of the lower substrates of a dystopian vertical metropolis of the XXIX century have the opportunity to feel the sun for the first time in their lives. But what should be an event of great joy will end up becoming something sinister and painful.

We finish this wonderful anthology of stories that for the first time you can read in Spanish. Where its author left everything written with a very melancholic prose. He did not write for us to identify with some of the protagonists, he did it to make us think about what he told us. It is a book that every self-respecting reader should have in their library.

In a way, Satō Haruo turns us into lovers without knowing or having physical contact. When a reader connects with a book so profoundly as to feel marked, the writer knew how to achieve his purpose—reach our soul.


Soraya Murillo Hernandez

From  Soraya Murillo Hernandez: I am an early reader, I started reading very soon and I was interested in terror, I liked to look for monsters and ghosts in the stories. Then I knew that the greatest terror came from humans. I am a book reviewer in Spain, I do it free to help its authors to know their works.

Soy una lectora precoz, comencé muy pronto a leer y me interese por el terror, me gustaba buscar monstruos y fantasmas en las historias. Luego supe que el mayor terror venia de los humanos . Soy reseñadora de libros en España, lo hago gratis para ayudar a sus autores a conocer sus obras.


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About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith's work has been published in several print and online publications, including the “Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase” vols. 2-4, “Christmas Lites” vols. 1-6 and the “Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy” anthology. She has nearly 20 books of speculative fiction and poetry for adults, YAs and children. Her first collection of poetry, “In Favor of Pain,” was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award.
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