This cat book made me WEEP 😭

I love cats. I love translated Japanese fiction. So of course I was excited to read The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. My boyfriend bought me 4 Japanese cat books for last Christmas (including the original classic that inspired them all) and I’ve been reading through them in publication order. I only have one left now! But today, we’re talking about Travelling Cat.

In this book we’re following a cat named Nana (because his tail is hooked like the number 7, which is “nana” in Japanese) on a road trip with his beloved owner Satoru. They’re travelling across Japan visiting Satoru’s old friends, but Nana doesn’t know why and Satoru won’t say. Despite that they’re just enjoying the time together, seeing the sights and Nana meeting these people.

This book is told both from the cat’s perspective in first person, and also in the third person when looking at flashbacks of Satoru’s life and learning more about his relationship with these people he’s driving to see. I really enjoyed the mix here as Nana get’s a really unique perspective to read from, often apart from Satoru, and the divide also helps to keep the flashbacks clear from the present day sections of the novel.

This book is absolutely gorgeous, completely heart breaking, and as I said in the title of this post I wept like a damn baby as I was finishing up this book. In some ways, it’s a predictable ending. And I’ve seen some people criticising the book for that. But for me it was about getting to know these characters over time and coming to feel for them. So perhaps a better choice for character based readers rather than plot based?

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 10, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 10 giving an average score of 9.57 and, of course, a 5* rating!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: animal death, cancer, car accident, death of loved ones, miscarriage, misogyny.

I’m so very glad I read this book. It’s a perfect book for any cat lover, but also just animal lovers in general! Have you read any cat/animal based books? I’d love more recommendations!

The Guest Cat, a review

After reading I Am A Cat I was excited to delve into some more Japanese cat books, and given I’m going in chronological order that meant The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (and translated by Eric Selland) was up next!

This is a short little book, at only 140 pages, and I was able to read it in just two days. This. This was exactly what I had hoped for from I Am A Cat. It was absolutely beautiful.

A gorgeous discussion on the values of nature, on grief, and on the uncontrollable aspects of nature, as well as a look into the life of this kitty and the wonderful humans who loved them.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 8,Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9 giving a score of 8.86 and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: animal death, death, grief, cancer, medical content, death of parent.

Because of how short this book is there isn’t too much else I can say. But what I will say is that this is one I’m definitely going to be reading again! Have you read anything by Hiraide?

I Am A Cat, a review

I Am A Cat by Natsume Sōseki (translated by Aiko Ito and Grame Wilson) is my first Japanese cat book. It was a Christmas present from my other half, who gave me 4 Japanese cat books in total, and I decided I wanted to read them in publication order.

Despite consciously making that decision, I didn’t fully realise that this book was from 1905 and that did have an impact on my reading experience. Completely my own fault of course. I’d expected a cat novel in the modern sense, where it’s all about the cat. This isn’t what you get from this book, instead it’s a commentary about early 1900s Japanese culture. But once I had realised and accepted what this book was actually about, it was vastly more enjoyable.

I learnt quite a bit about Japanese culture in this time, and I loved the viewpoint that the cat was able to give us. Seeing all the individuals for who they truly were, and being able to explore and go where our humans characters could not. It truly is a satirisation of the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era.

The “book” is actually a collection of short stories that were published in ten instalments in a literary journal. The first instalment was supposed to be a one off, but the publisher and the readers enjoyed it so much that they asked Sōseki to publish some more! This means that each story can actually stand quite well on its own.

The ending was definitely a little bit of a shock for me, not what I had expected at all. And it was harsher than I had anticipated too! Partly a product of it’s time of course, but still! It was really interesting to see how Sōseki approached this.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 5, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 5, which totalled 6.29 and gave a 3.5* rating.

I’m really glad that I’ve read the original cat book and I’m excited to delve into more now! Do you read translated works? I adore finding translated books from other cultures!