Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (2014, 144 pages, translated by Eric Sellard)

One of the many wonderful things cats do us is the bringing closer of their care givers.  The Cat Guest by Takashi Hirande beautifully and poetically tells just such a story.  A childless married couple in their thirties live in a cottage on the estate  of a wealthy older couple.  The property is in the middle of Tokyo and has lots of trees, a true blessing in an ultra-urban megacity.  The couple are free lance writers and work at home.  Their marriage is good but you sense a certain closed quality in both.  One day a cat wanders up to their door.  Soon they name her, begin giving her treats, inviting her inside and playing with her.  The couple now have more to talk about than work and the rising prize of real estate in Tokyo.  They open up to each other through the cat.  Their elderly landlords are planning to sell their property.  The relationship between the landlords is very interesting. They offer to let the couple buy the cottage but there is no way they can afford it. 

 In the background of The Cat Guest, we see how the boom in Tokyo real estate prices impacted life for people living there.  The cat and her comings and goings comes to almost dominate the concerns of the couple.  

I am intentionally leaving out much of the plot as I know this novel will be very popular with literary cat lovers.   I really liked it a lot.

I was given a review copy of this book.

Takashi Hiraide was born in Moji, Kitakyushu in 1950. He has published numerous books of poetry as well as several books of genre-bending essays, including one on poetics and baseball. He has also written a novel, A Guest Cat; a biography of Meiji poet Irako Seihaku; and a travelogue that follows the traces of Kafka, Celan, and Benjamin in Berlin. His poetry book, Postcards to Donald Evans, is published by the Tibor de Nagy Foundation. Hiraide is a professor of Art Science and Poetics as well as a core member of the new Institute for Art Anthropology at Tama Art University. For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut won the 2009 Best Translated Book Award for poetry.  - from webpage of New Directions Press

Mel u


Fred said...

Mel u,

I found my copy from the library, which is where I think I first read about this novella or short novel.

It's almost as if the cat is a substitute for a child, isn't it?

Mel u said...

Fred, glad you were able to read this. I wonder if it can also be seen as about the impact of long periods of low birth rate on Japanese society?

Fred said...

Mel u,

I wasn't aware that there was a low birth rate in Japan. I had always pictured it a crowded little island.

What did you think of the cat's real owners?

Suko said...

I love the sound and look of this book!

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of this book and really look forward to reading it.

Mel u said...

Suko,thanks as always for your comments

Orangepekoreviews. I hope you will share your opinion of the book with us.