Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944 and grew up in Los Angeles. Graduating UCLA after just three years of study, he went on to Harvard Graduate School, and then to the Soviet Union, Poland and France. He arrived in Japan in 1967 and went to Kyoto, where, at Kyoto Sangyo University, he taught Russian and Polish and began a writing career. Among his many books in Japanese and English are novels such as “The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn” and “Star Sand”; works of non-fiction like “If There Were No Japan”; and translations from Japanese, Russian and Polish. He has directed plays in major theatres in Japan and Australia and has worked in film, receiving, in 2008, the award for Best Script, together with director Takashi Koizumi, at the Tehran Film Festival for “Best Wishes for Tomorrow” (“Ashita e no Yuigon”).