Translated by Philip Gabriel (best known for his work translating many of Murakami's novels) this lovely, gentle story appears slight on the surface, but is actually power-packed with messages about the art of caring, love, friendship, loyalty and generosity. Not many books make me cry, but I shed a quiet tear at the end of this bittersweet story.
Arikawa makes her cats come alive. Anyone who has loved a cat of their own will instantly recognise the moods, behaviour and attitude of Nana and the other cats in this story. Not so common though, is having the cat as the narrator of the story. This gave Arikawa the freedom to indulge in all sorts of cat wisdom, that again, any cat-lover will recognise instantly.
'If you don't mourn a dead cat properly, you'll never get over it.'
'Satoru glanced at me in the passenger's seat, where I was now sitting in a tidy ball, my tail around my front legs.'
'I stretched up, placing my front paws on the passenger window, and enjoyed the passing scenery for a while, then curled up on the seat.'
'I sat up, rested my paws on the passenger-seat window and craned my neck to see out.'
'Among cats, when a female chooses a mate, it's a very clear-cut thing. Not just among cats, but with all animals, the female's judgement about love is absolute.'
'I arched my back as high as it could go and make my fur stand on end.'
'The curled-up chinchilla's tail had been twitching all this time, and it was obvious to me that what he was feeling was annoyance and irritation at the dogs' incessant chatter.'
'I purred till my throat hurt, rubbing the top of my head over and over against his body.'
Each chapter begins with a lovely black and white illustration as Satoru and Nana travel around Japan visiting Satoru's friends to see if one of them will be a good fit for Nana. We don't really know what the 'unavoidable circumstances' are that make it impossible for Satoru to continue to care for Nana, but our suspicion and concerns increase with each visit.
Most of us cat-lovers are sometimes left wondering if our beloved cats actually care for us as much as we care for them. The Travelling Cat Chronicles proves to us that yes they do!