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

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi - Translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot - 2020 - 227 Pages

 Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi - Translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot - 2020 - 227 Pages

The Japanese Literature Challenge 14 - Hosted by Dolce Bellezza 

January 1 to March 31. Japanese Literature Challenge 14

My prior posts for JL14 2021

  1. “Peony Lanterns” a Short Story by Aoko Matsuda - translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton -2020 - a delightful story you can read online. Linked to traditional stories of Ghosts

I love Japanese literature.  I have Dolce Bellezza to thank for expanding my Reading World.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is a best seller in Japan with over a million sold.  Like “Peony Lanterns” it has supernatural elements.  (Maybe one day literary historians will determine that during the pandemic people turned to escapist other worldly fiction to withdraw into themselves.)

Before The Coffee Gets Cold was fun to read, taking up a pleasant evening with a Reading time of under four hours.  The plot action takes place in a famous coffee shop in contemporary  Tokyo.  Urban legend has it that this café is a portal from which one can time travel, as long as you follow the rules.  

You can only time travel from one particular chair in the cafe, nothing you might do on your travels will change the future, you may only encounter someone who has also visited the café and you must be back before your coffee gets cold otherwise you will turn into a ghost.

There are four chapters each showing us experiences of time travelors.

The characters are very well developed as is feeling for the shop. 

In the first episode a woman wants to find out why a man she loved abandoned her to take a job in America.  In second section a woman wants to receive a never mailed letter from her husband who has lost his memory to Alzheimer's.  In third a woman  wants to meet her sister, killed in an auto accident hoping to resolve bitterness between them over responsibilities to their parents.  As the father of three daughters I have wished sometimes I could travel in to a future when I am gone to see How our girls are doing.  In the final most moving episode to me, a woman is pregnant.  Her doctor has told her if she gives birth probably child, a girl, Will survive but she might not.  She asks to meet her daughter as a Young woman.  She knows she well may never see her.

There are fun asides about a ghost who sits in the special chair most of the time, descriptions of attire and café food that add a lot to the pleasure of Before The Coffee Gets Cold.

TOSHIKAZU KAWAGUCHI was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971. He has produced, directed and written for the theatrical group Sonic Snail. As a playwright, his works include COUPLE, Sunset Song and family time. His play Before the Coffee Gets Cold won the grand prize at the Suginami Drama Festival. This is his debut as an author. Before the Coffee Gets Cold has become an international bestseller and has been adapted for the screen in Japan.


Gretchen said...

Nice review! I agree, it was an enjoyable read, but also quite moving. Many of can identify with at least one of the characters in the story. I just linked my review at Dolce Bellezza this morning.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

Interesting! I seem to remember that quite a few bloggers chose this book in their Top 10 reads of 2020 -- even those who typically read only non-fiction. Seems like a good pick and glad you liked it.
(Followed you here from the Japanese Literature Challenge 14.)
~ Lex

Aidan @ Mysteries Ahoy! said...

This sounds like a really interesting concept for a story - thanks for making me aware of it!

Bellezza said...

It seems that many people, including me, have chosen to read this for the JLC14. As you say, we search for escapism, especially during such a time as the pandemic. I am quite intrigued by this novel , although I doubt I could read it in four hours during one evening. I am a terribly slow reader! But, the idea of examining one’s past always holds a special appeal to me, along with the idle wish that sometimes I could redo certain events, or discussions. Thank you for your fine review.

Mel u said...

Gretchen. I identified strongly with The parent whi wanted to travel to The future to see her daughtrr as an adult. Thanks for your comment.

Mel u said...

Lex. Thsnkd for your comment. I follow your Blog now.