Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide
Translated into English by: Eric Selland
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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.
First of all, let me praise the beauty of the book’s cover. Those green eyes glowing ceaselessly and the pleasant colour of the book cover lured me towards it, so I have started reading this book as soon as it fell into my lap and I don’t regret my choice. It’s absolutely beautiful and a gentle story.
For cat lovers, and even if you’re not one, pick this up if you need a quick read. Takashi’s descriptiveness captures and projects those vivid images that you’ll feel sad the book ended so suddenly and you feel like devouring it once again.
Chibi, the cat in this book, is one bookish pet you’d love to have it for yourself. Although the Synopsis says that both the husband and wife in this book doesn’t have much to say to another, which means, they might have been leading a boring life or a life filled with quarrels. But none of those things were described in it. Yet, this book promises to be a potentially enjoyable read. With his writing, Takashi’s poetic prose is evident in this book.
“…observation is at its core an expression of love which doesn’t get caught up in sentiment.”
How true, isn’t it? I was taken aback by how precisely and fittingly he captures the thoughts which run in the minds of people who didn’t have any experience with pets in their whole life. Like many Japanese authors, Takashi gives importance to the detail of the character and doesn’t use too many words and has arrived at such a point that you would feel his words are the perfect amalgamation for a beautiful story like The Guest Cat. I appreciate the translator, Eric Selland, for making it the picture-perfect book with his choice of words.
“What’s interesting about animals, my wife explained, is that even though a cat may be a cat, in the end, each individual has its own character. “For me, Chibi is a friend with whom I share an understanding, and who just happens to have taken on the form of a cat.”
I bet that all the cat lovers in this world would unanimously agree to this statement. 🙂
The book being set amid a couple, their troubles of settling and adjusting with their lives going nowhere, and the big mansion they were allowed to use by the owners of the cottage they are living, occasional visits by the neighbour cat and her never ending charming behaviour makes this book a light read but a definite read. I would recommend this to anyone who has a taste for Japanese Literature.