Greenfeld, Karl Taro 1964-
Greenfeld, Karl Taro 1964-
Born 1964, in Kobe, Japan; married: wife's name Silka; children: Esmee, Lola.
Journalist, freelance writer, editor. Time Asia, editor, 2002-04. Also worked as a managing editor for the Japanese monthly, Tokyo Journal, and as Tokyo correspondent for the Nation.
Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Standard Deviations: Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia, Villard (New York, NY), 2002.
China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century's First Great Epidemic, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to book series, including "The Best American Non-required Reading" series and the "Lonely Planet" travel guides. Contributor to numerous periodicals, including GQ, Vogue, Outside, Men's Journal, Paris Review, Condé Nast Traveler, Salon, Wall Street Journal, Details, and New York Times Magazine.
Born to an American father and a Japanese mother in Japan, Karl Taro Greenfeld was raised in the United States. He returned at the age of twenty-three to Japan, where he worked for a journal for expatriate Americans and as Tokyo correspondent for the American weekly the Nation. Greenfeld's 1994 nonfiction book, Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation, presents a series of profiles of Japanese youth during the country's period of great economic prosperity in the late 1980s. Greenfeld interviewed members of motorcycle gangs, workers in the pornography industry, nightclub frequenters, overworked students, and drug dealers. "These are entertaining characters, familiar to those who have spent time in Japan," commented Alan Poul in a review of Speed Tribes for the New York Times Book Review.
Critics praised Greenfeld's finely detailed portraits and ability to capture distinct cultural types in Speed Tribes. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found a discrepancy between the fast-paced and glamorous lifestyles Greenfeld portrays and the seamy reality that comes through. "These ‘speed tribes’ … come across as depressing and sordid, rather than ‘dazzling’ or rich," said the Publishers Weekly reviewer. And critic Poul noted that Greenfeld doesn't highlight the differences between his characters' lives and that of similar American types: "Greenfeld's attempt to forge a cohesive portrait of a hip Japanese Generation X rings hollow because he rarely addresses the cultural currents that not only make these kids what they are, but also set them apart from their Western counterparts." Nonetheless, wrote Poul, "Speed Tribes is an entertaining read."
Standard Deviations: Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia is Greenfeld's memoir of his wild times running in an elite fast lane around Asia. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, "He offers unique glimpses into Asia and apparently frank self-revelation," but he "never fleshes out either theme." A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the book as "an exhausting journey through one man's ego as all the drugs and girls in Asia gradually wear him out." Elsa Gaztambide commented in her review for Booklist that Greenfeld "unabashedly shares the experiences of a youth that reach far beyond the average person's wildest dreams."
In China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century's First Great Epidemic, Greenfeld chronicles the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China in 2003. Working as a reporter in Hong Kong at the time, he witnessed firsthand the widespread panic that resulted when a disease that threatened to become a global pandemic originated in such a highly populated area. Greenfeld uses this incident as a blueprint for how other infectious diseases might spread in the future and how various societies, health organizations, and governments will react. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted Greenfeld's emphasis on what he found to be the most disturbing: "The silence from (and outright suppression of information by) the Chinese government during the earliest stages of the epidemic." Dick Maxwell, reviewing the book for Library Journal, remarked that the book "moves quickly, often conjuring a thriller," and also noted that Greenfeld's "personal and professional involvement give his account … a unique perspective." Booklist contributor Donna Chavez opined that Greenfeld "paints a rather gloomy picture of what we and the World Health Organization can expect next." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called the book "a taut scientific thriller, well told," going on to add: "Suffice it to say that conditions are ripe for a replay of the disease; keep an eye out for a grim sequel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Greenfeld, Karl Taro Standard Deviations: Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia, Villard (New York, NY), 2002.
Booklist, September 1, 1994, review of Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation, p. 8; June 1, 2002, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Standard Deviations, p. 1672; February 1, 2006, Donna Chavez, review of China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century's First Great Epidemic, p. 14.
Book World, November 20, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 4.
California Bookwatch, June 1, 2006, review of China Syndrome.
Entertainment Weekly, October 21, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 62; March 24, 2006, Brian Palmer, review of China Syndrome, p. 73.
Far Eastern Economic Review, June 1, 2006, David Plott, review of China Syndrome, p. 57.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 901; May 1, 2002, review of Standard Deviations, p. 636; February 1, 2006, review of China Syndrome, p. 120.
Library Journal, September 1, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 202; February 1, 2006, Dick Maxwell, review of China Syndrome, p. 99.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 22, 1995, review of Speed Tribes, p. 12.
New Statesman, September 4, 2006, Margaret Cook, review of Mystery Fever, p. 56.
New York Times Book Review, October 16, 1994, Alan Poul, review of Speed Tribes, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, July 11, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, pp. 69-70; May 13, 2002, review of Standard Deviations, p. 59; January 2, 2006, review of China Syndrome, p. 44.
Time, November 28, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 87.
Times Educational Supplement, April 28, 1995, review of Speed Tribes, p. 13.
Village Voice Literary Supplement, September, 1994, review of Speed Tribes, p. 33.