The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide – Review

Picador

Translated by Eric Selland

the-guest-cat-978144727940201

“A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. The book won Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, and was a bestseller in France and America. – See more at: http://www.picador.com/books/the-guest-cat#sthash.eVOB31BN.dpuf”

3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

A couple reside in a rented property in the suburbs in Japan. They are meandering through life when suddenly a cat, adopted by neighbours begins to visit their house. As the cat works its way into their hearts and home she has an effect on their lives in other ways.

This is a short novella, only 136 pages long. There is a mystical almost whimsical feel to the story as the unnamed narrator tells us about Chibi the cat and how she motivates him and his wife. He notices changes taking place, neither of them being cat lovers, his wife starts to make a bed for the visitor, feeding her and leaving the door open to ensure she can visit whenever she likes. The cat inspires the narrator to make changes in his own life.

The author is also a poet and this shows in the writing. Short chapters of two or three pages appear to convey little but the story soon grows on you much like the cat. There is no big plot line, just a gentle meander through the lives of a Japanese couple. A charming little story.

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