The Guest Cat, Takashi Hiraide

Blurb segment A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. 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. 

Review Takashi Hiraide brings Chibi the cat poetically to life with a delicate first person narrative which sees a couple revitalized through her presence. The reader is the privileged onlooker to a precious memory beautifully constructed by Hiraide. The translator has done a magnificent job of remaining true to Hiraide’s poetic style and maintaining a wonderfully Japanese elegance. There wasn’t so much of a story to grip onto, which meant that my captivation faded once or twice, but the sense of calm I felt when reading more than made up for that. The temptation is to finish up by saying this is a must read for all cat lovers, but this would be defining it only as a book about a cat, when it is so much more than that. However, those that share in Hiraide’s clear love of felines (myself very much included), are bound to find it particularly charming.

Quotes I enjoyed “Having played to her heart’s content, Chibi would come inside and rest for a while. When she began to sleep on the sofa–like a talisman curled gently in the shape of a comma and dug up from a prehistoric archaeological site–a deep sense of happiness arrived, as if the house itself had dreamed this scene.”

guest cat

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