The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

the guest catThis is my first taste of Japanese novel (I’ve read alot of Japanese mangas), and my opinion? It’s surprisingly awesome! It’s lovely, haunting and different. Now I “sort-of” understand the uniqueness of Japanese novel. The Guest Cat tends to be “slow”, and there are something particularly in the words that made it gentle, tender, and charming. It also conveyed a nice sense of place. I think its poetics results come from Japanese’s identity, because as I know, every novels has its capacity for representing its nations and people. Trust me, that may be sounds serious, but it’s not. The story is totally sweet.

Chibi, like some lucky cats in the world, changes the narrator’s and his wife’s life who live in a rented Tokyo house, but in this case, Chibi is not 100% their cat. Chibi is the neighbor’s cat. That is a reason why she is called ‘The Guest Cat’. The couple do not enjoy each other anymore, having little to say to each other. Chibi comes as an uninvited guest again and again, bringing a sparkle to the couple’s boring daily routine. This small cat becomes a new bond between the two of them.

I really like this story as it has a ‘cute’ feel on it. Because of Chibi, the couple have a ‘new life’. The husband, who is a writer finally begins writing this book, and he gets closer to his wife. My heart cracks open much wider by this story. It really gives me a glimpse into the mind and attitudes of Japanese culture. I tried to keep my distance, but could not. I even stopped reading it for awhile (my mom encouraged me to go on) but then I was quietlty sobbing by the end, swept up in the same grief felt by this couple. My mom said there was something particularly Japanese about its bittersweetness. I agree with her.

I found myself getting caught up in this sweet tale, particularly at the end. However, I do realize this book is not too popular, and it is not even there in Wikipedia. Maybe the non-Japanese (or Westerners) like to read Garfield instead of The Guest Cat. I strongly recommend cat lovers to read this book. You may compare Chibi and how your own cat change your life. Or as I conclude as a cat owner myself, “You are nobody until you are ignored by a cat”.

Takashi Hiraide was born in Moji, Kitakyushi in 1950. He have published numerous books of poetry as well as several book of genre-bending essays. “Makes every reader spell bound”… that is my opinion to this book.


2 thoughts on “The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

  1. I bought this book from a used book vendor on a street in Nairobi. You are right about the aesthetic of the book. The poetry is not in the words or phrases but in the feeling it conjures up.

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