Cats in Japanese Literature

I read The Traveling Cat Chronicles last year and was so touched. The book left long lasting warmhearted feelings in my heart and I just know I must read more cat novels. Unfortunately there is not yet another book which has moved me as much as The Traveling Cat Chronicles.

I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki (1905) is narrated by a no-name cat. The famous first line is “I am a cat. As yet I have no name.” This is probably the very first cat character in Japanese literature which was born, lived and died in the Meiji era. Soseki in the voice of the cat satirized the bourgeois in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. The story was hilarious and informative early on but I found it boring and gossipy by the end of the first volume. I just stopped reading there. About which I felt better when I found out Soseki originally wrote only a short story which is the first chapter of the very long book that we read nowadays. At the time he was an unknown young author. After a lot of success of the short story, the editor asked him to write more. And the rest is history.

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (2014) is a slow moving novella, and does not focus on the cat as much as I wanted. This book is like a book about nothing. It is the kind of book I might enjoy more when I grow older and become more patient.

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura (2019) The book starts on a Monday when a 30 year-old no-name man found out he had a stage 4 brain tumor and wouldn’t likely make it another week. Then the Devil showed up and offered him a deal: with one thing he erased from the world he would be able to live another day. This novella is actually his letter to his father covering the last week of his life from Monday to Sunday.

It is a moving story and full of lessons on the meanings of life, how to live a happy life, etc., The author was not showing us but telling us all these ideas which made the writing contrived. After a while I was thinking if I should continue reading it, since a few of the ideas are interesting but many are cliche. However the story picked up a bit after the cat started talking.

Overall it is a 3 star reading. My journey to read more cat novels continues. And I am not even a cat person.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s