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About Martin Roth

Martin Roth was born in New Zealand in 1949. His father Bert Roth, a Jewish refugee from Vienna, had been a leader of the Austrian Communist underground movement; his mother, Margot, from an Anglican family, was a journalist on Wellington’s left-wing Southern Cross newspaper. He graduated in law from Auckland University and then went to work as a reporter on the now-defunct Auckland Star. He followed this with 15 months on papers in the British West Midlands (the Express and Star in Wolverhampton and the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham) and six months working on kibbutzim in Israel, before travelling to Japan in 1976 for a short working holiday. He ended up staying there 17 years.

 

As a freelance journalist based in Tokyo his reports from throughout Asia appeared in leading (and not-so-leading) newspapers and magazines around the world. He also became deeply involved in Buddhism, and in 1985 his first book was published, Zen Guide, co-authored with noted Buddhist scholar Professor John Stevens.

 

His publisher then asked him to write the first English-language guide to the joys of saké (Japanese rice wine). And so together with one of Japan’s leading saké writers and judges he blissfully embarked on a drinking tour of Japan’s 2,000-odd saké breweries, only to see the project shelved when a rival publisher came out with its own English-language book on the subject.

 

His next book was a concise introduction for foreigners to the Japanese stock market. It was conservatively written, but the publisher unwisely titled it Making Money in Japanese Stocks, and with astute timing it appeared in bookstores in late-1989, right before the bursting of the Tokyo share bubble.

 

In 1978 he wrote a lengthy article on karaoke, and today among his prized possessions (along with his collections of sumo magazines and saké bottle labels) is a letter from the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary stating that they will cite the article the next time they revise the karaoke entry in the dictionary. The earliest citation at present is from September 1979, so unless another writer steps forward with an earlier reference Martin Roth can claim to be the person who introduced karaoke to the English-speaking world.

 

He came to live in Australia in 1993, and to his own surprise soon found himself a devout worshipper at his local Baptist church. He has written about his lengthy spiritual path to Christianity in his 1999 book Living Water to Light the Journey.

 

He now lives in the suburbs of Melbourne with his Korean wife, three sons and golden retriever, working as a freelance business and finance author and trying unsuccessfully to write novels.

 

 

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