The Guest Cat Paperback – 25 Sep 2014
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The Guest Cat is a rare treasure . . . beautiful and profound . . . whether you're a cat lover or not, don't pass this one up (NPR)
This is a gentle, thoughtful and subtly profound work . . . It's the kind of work that makes you ask of its author: "How on earth did he do that?" as you find yourself dabbing your eyes and pausing to look wistfully into the distance . . . You will want to read The Guest Cat more than once, so you notice more details - seeing as you can't do this with life (Nicholas Lezard's Paperback of the Week Guardian)
The language and descriptions are careful, elegant and lovely; while Hiraide's book is ostensibly about a cat, it is more precisely about space and ownership. The book renders an unusually intimate, detailed and vivid picture of a place that is simultaneously private and open. (New York Times)
Lyrical and captivating . . . I will revisit The Guest Cat with pleasure, much as I return to favourite poems and paintings and memories (Huffington Post)
A book genuinely worthy of bestseller status (Independent)
This moving novel is a treat for felinophiles (Guardian)
This is a charming, thoughtful little meditation on the transience of life (Summer Book Club, S Magzine)
An international bestseller. A charming and wonderful novel about a cat that brings joy into a couple's life.See all Product description
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I've read several Japanese books in translation, and all seem to suffer a similar problem - some of the poetry, inevitably, is lost. Hiraide will spend an entire paragraph giving a nice, detailed description of something, and then end the paragraph by giving a short summary of what he just wrote. I feel that perhaps this is a common trope of Japanese writing and that the beauty of this style is lost when translating the novel into English.
The story is nice enough and has enough stuff happening to keep the reader engaged - the short chapters also help with this, with most chapters averaging around 3-4 minutes of reading time - great for shorter commutes or transfers at busy tube stations. Annoyingly, some of the meaning of the novel was lost on me until the very end, because the Kindle version did not identify parts of the book which had a translator's note at the back of the book. This meant that some of the events of the novel held little meaning for me until well after the event, dulling the experience entirely. I therefore recommend that you buy the paperback version of the book to make checking these small facts a lot more convenient (you may even realise as you're reading that there IS a translator's note for you to read!!).
All in all, it's a light, fluffy kind of novel. It's easy to read. In all honesty, however, I feel a little underwhelmed and would ultimately not recommend this as a 'must-read' like the many accolades have proudly declared, but it's suitable if you just want something easy and short to entertain you during a busy commute.
It's a very sweet book that is also very short. I read it in just over an hour.
The book is about a Japanese couple who are renting a small house and are in their mid thirties. A neighbours cat begins to visit them and this is the story of how they form a bond with the cat, who is not really their pet. It's very Japanese, in a polite, quiet and respectful way. There are no big characters and the plot is quite sedate.
I enjoyed the book and the relationships within the story. I particularly enjoyed reading the authors references to fate and change. I felt at my age (just hit forty!) I identified with these changes. I'm not really a cat lover but 'Chibi' the cat was probably my favourite character in the book.
I'm deducting a star, due to the end of the story. I felt that the author didn't give enough explanation to the vague accusations against the neighbour. What really did happen on that road?
An excellent story if you're looking for a short book.
Beautiful, striking cover.
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