Hisako Matsubara’s first book in English, Mino—A Young Scientist’s Lifelong Journey Through Outer and Inner Space. The blurb on the front flap claims: “This extraordinary autobiography is unlike any other life story you’ll ever read.” What makes Mino so extraordinary?
The book’s plot is chronological. The narrative arc builds from early childhood to a climactic battle with cancer. Throughout, the story is supported by facts and feelings sure to ring true to any parent.
Mino, a rising star at NASA, as brilliant as he is likable. His universe extends from the smallest of the small—nanotechnology— to the scale of the universe measured in billions of light years. He was the first to develop at NASA the concept of swarms of hundreds of tiny satellites, communicating with one another by lasers and sending information down to earth. His ideas, once considered revolutionary, are now implemented in the USA and in countries around the world.
Mino’s brilliance showed up early in his life. His father introduced the young child to the wonders of nature—critters and plants outdoors, the colors of the rainbow, and the magic of liquid nitrogen in his lab. Mino was an accomplished pianist. He was fluent in French, German, English, and Japanese. He was a fine artist and examples of his ink drawings are included in the book. He contemplated his mortality and rejected palliative concepts of the afterlife, preferring the Shinto belief that souls live as long as the dead are remembered by those who continue living.
But is it really an autobiography? The Prelude tells us that Mino couldn’t have been the author. Hisako Matsubara wrote the book. Here is a novelist who has gone through the terrifying experience of losing her son and has recreated his life in his own voice.
Hisako Matsubara grew up in Kyoto, Japan, daughter of a high Shinto priest. She studied in Japan, USA and Germany, earning advance degrees in humanities, theater arts and comparative history. It was in Germany that she turned her focus to writing. She published more than 20 books, novels and non-fiction, in both German and Japanese, with combined sales of more than a million copies. Mino is her first book written in English.