The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (Neko no Kyaku)

How did I get the book? I bought it.Neko no Kyaku

Synopsis: 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.

200words (or less) review: I’ve read many translated books from Japanese over the years so in my case the ‘Translator’s Notes’ at the back of the book weren’t needed but I think they’ll be helpful for others.

The House Guest is a short novel narrated in first person. The book has a memoir feel and the writing is very descriptive. For me this absolutely worked because throughout the book I felt like was sitting next to narrator listening to him tell me his story. That impression is reinforced by the novel structure and that sometimes things are left unexplained, for example when did Chibi and the narrator’s wife reconcile?*

I’d argue that being a cat or dog person shouldn’t have an influence on whether you’d like this book. Chibi is a cat but she represents much more.

You can enjoy The House Guest as story about a mysterious cat that visits the narrator and his wife and if you wish, you can look further and enjoy the other layers. Neither way, enjoy.

Recommend it?

Absolutely

*To be fair this could be down to the translation.

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