Monday 12 October 2015

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Guest Cat has been sitting by my bed since June when I added it to my 20 books of winter challenge. I read a few chapters but then it got 'forgotten' in the flurry and chaos of our move.

Thanks to Andi's #15in31 challenge this month, I have been rediscovering all these half-read books lying around our new home - and I'm determined to finally finish them.

The Guest Cat's initial appeal was its cover. The title and the cats eyes use a shiny, glow-in-the-dark type foiled paper. The eyes seem to follow me around wherever I a good way.

Like may Japanese books, The Guest Cat deserves to be read slowly, in a zen-like way to appreciate the attention to detail and the day to day observations.

The cat in question, Chibi, is the neighbours cat. But she adopts the 30-something couple in the cottage next door. This is their story.

Some of the descriptions of Chibi took my breath away with their pure cat-ness, their simplicity and their elegance.
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.

Often Chibi would be in the midst of grooming herself, using her small, precise tongue, and would suddenly stop and look back over her shoulder at the intruder.

Hiriade engaged in several interesting philosophical discussions throughout via the voice of his narrator. He referenced Machiavelli, fate versus free will, the change of the seasons, the aging process and the virtues of a life 'frugal, yet with the beauty of simplicity'.

My only quibble with the book, which may have been a translation issue, was that the time periods seemed to jump awkwardly. It was disconcerting to be meandering along in the story and then to suddenly jump forwards or sidewards into another phase or idea.

Recommended for those who like slim books that meditate the meaning of life with the help of a cat.

The Guest Cat is book 8 read for Andi's #15in31 challenge.
This book is also a part of Dolce Belleza's Japanese Literature challenge.


  1. That challenge you've taken part in is very spot-on. What a great way to finish those half read books!

    Even though this isn't the kind of book I would normally opt for, I must say that it sounds interesting. In spite of the translation problems, i'm glad you were still able to enjoy it. Besides, anything to do with animals is cute!

    Nice review, Brona!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

    1. I am now wondering if the sudden leaps forwards and sideways in the story were deliberate - a cat-like manoeuvre of the author!

  2. Nice review! This sounds like something I would enjoy! Since I do share my house with five felines! :)

  3. I have been meaning to read this for quite some time, drawn in by the cover as you mentioned, but also for the fairly recent affinity I've acquired for cats. Not to mention our love of Japanese literature! It's hard to know whether an issue we have with a book is due to the author, or more likely, the translator. But, I'm glad to be forewarned to take this book slowly. Too often I feel rushed through what I'm reading, in a hurry to get to the next book, which certainly detracts from the one I'm currently involved in. Thanks for this great review and for participating in the challenge.

    1. Taking 4 mnths to read a book, may be taking the slow reading a bit too far, but many of the images and scenes in this book do take time to develop in your minds eye.
      The camera obscura effect of the knothole in their lane way is now a part of my memory too :-)

  4. "pure cat-ness" - now that's the description that will make me read a book!


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