Callum McLaughlin's Reviews > The Travelling Cat Chronicles

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
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really liked it
bookshelves: translated

A book centred around a cat (and narrated in part by said cat) had a lot of potential to feel overly sentimental, but somehow, Hiro Arikawa really makes it work. As for all this is billed as a story about an animal, it is a remarkably human tale. The deceptively simple story masks a surprisingly tender look at what it means to find family, process grief, and make peace with the past.

As Satoru reconnects with people from his childhood, we piece together his life's history, and see the ways these various people impacted him. The old wounds that are reopened for them all, and yet the sense of closure these meetings bring them, is at equal turns poignant, melancholic, and heart-warming.

The general mood throughout is one of nostalgia and pathos, but the uniqueness of the sections narrated by Nana, the cat, lends the whole thing so much warmth too. Any cat lover will be enamoured by how playfully, and yet accurately, the author has managed to capture the characterful blend of haughty self-importance, plucky independence, and endearing loyalty that we all recognise from our feline friends. Props to Philip Gabriel too for a very successful translation, which preserves the quirk and charm of Arikawa's prose.

The sense of sad inevitability as we move towards the story's climax makes the impact of the final scenes no less moving. The use of the seasons is also really effective in capturing the idea of the passage of time, and the natural cycle of life and death. I expected a touching if somewhat cheesy read going into this. But I have to admit how pleasantly surprised I was by the subtle, sensitive, and nuanced handling of both its narrative and themes. It's a delightfully offbeat, beautiful little book.
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Reading Progress

July 24, 2018 – Shelved
July 24, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 9, 2018 – Started Reading
August 10, 2018 – Finished Reading
August 15, 2018 – Shelved as: translated

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