The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide (Book Review)

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I picked this up after seeing it on the ‘World Literature’ table at my local Waterstones. Being not much over 100 pages, I thought it would make a quick read in the interim between larger books.

A couple who live in a small house both work from home. The alley behind their house is often home to stray cats, and their neighbour, an elderly lady in a large house chases them away.

That is until their neighbours adopt one: Chibi. Chibi is free-spirited cat who, despite the dislike for being picked up, freely spends time around humans. Though owned by the couples neighbours, Chibi spends a lot of time at the couple’s house and they care for her too.

The book is a strange one. I found a lot of the writing to be poetic, and enjoyed the descriptions of often everyday life. The couple seemed to live in isolation of others, but Chibi give them contact to more than their nocturnal world in front of computers and working.

The story doesn’t seem to follow much more than the impact the cat has on the life of the couple. And it seems to be quite large one. Maybe cat-lovers could sympathise more with their reactions, and don’t get me wrong – I like cats, but I found their devotion to the animal somewhat over the top.

Perhaps they saw it as more of a child, and perhaps their was more solace in caring for the cat than simply having the company of a cute fluffy thing. It certainly makes me think something was found in the cat from the outside world that the couple could find nowhere else.

Overall it was a quick read and not a bad book. Wouldn’t suit someone looking for a lot of action, but certainly a book on finding art in the monotony of life.

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