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Publisher's Summary

A best seller in France and winner of Japan's Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their 30s live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife - the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens.

As Kenzaburo Oe has remarked, Takashi Hiraide's work "really shines". His poetry, which is remarkably cross-hatched with beauty, has been acclaimed here for "its seemingly endless string of shape-shifting objects and experiences, whose splintering effect is enacted via a unique combination of speed and minutiae".

©2001 Takashi Hiraide; translation copyright 2014 by Eric Selland (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is a beautiful, ornate read, brimming with philosophical observation, humor and intelligence, leaving the reader anticipating more translated works of Hiraide." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • Wild Blue, Yonder
  • 06-29-17

A Novel As Poetry

I loved this deceptively simple story which was beautifully written and seamlessly translated from the original Japanese. There was a gentle flow in the writing which could have been so easily overwhelmed by the wrong choice in narrators. Thankfully, this wasn't the case with this book. The narration was beautifully done and really captured the subtle nuances of the writing.

The cultural contrast between a life lived in Tokyo verses life in America are at first fascinating in terms of the differences presented. Then as the book continues the story bridges these differences with the universal idea of life as an exploration of beauty and connection. The writing explores love, loss, connection, and most of all communication. I particularly enjoyed the way architecture, light, insects, animals, and gardens all played key roles in the storytelling.

To me, this was a tender and lovingly written window into another world and way of living. Poetic and thoughtful.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 06-16-17

Delightful

This story takes place in Japan in the 1980s. The couple, one a freelance writer the other a proof-reader and editor, work from home. Over time communication decreases between them as they are involved in their solitary work. One day a neighbor’s cat wanders into their home. Chibi begins to make regular visits to them. The cat brings them small pleasures that allow them to reconnect with each other.

The book is extremely well written. It is short only three and a half hours long (140 pages). The style of the writing and the story is Japanese. The translation of the book from Japanese to English appears to be excellent. Unless the reader has had exposures to Japanese writing, it might be difficult to totally enjoy the subtle parts of the story. Characteristic of Japanese writing the philosophical passages and literary reference are quite simple and sparse. The descriptions are beautiful and even lyrical; the vivid prose keeps everything flowing. The prose is focused on the people and places not the events. The cat, Chibi, is the center of the narrative. Typical of a Japanese story the simplicity belies a depth that is executed in a subtle way. I thoroughly enjoyed this gentle, thoughtful and subtly profound work. The author, Takashi Hiraide, is a Japanese poet.

David Smith does a good job narrating the story. Smith is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Interesting insights into contemporary Japan

I enjoy learning about Japan and a Japanese culture. I liked this story because it provided an insight into the life of an average, modern Japanese person (it takes place in the late 1980's to early 1990's). While not a "page turner," I did stay engaged with the story and main character.