The Guest CatBook - 2014
A bestseller 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 thirties 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 theyare 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."
From the critics
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Below the zelkova tree time had stopped. At the foot of a little pine tree in its shadow, the most important of gems lay sleeping.
I'd heard that cats offer their complete trust only to the people who are feeding them. So they only reveal their really cute side to their owners. Hence it follows that we - the odd couple living next door who were not really Chibi's owners but were merely getting a taste of what cat ownership might be like on an ad hoc basis - were most likely not shown her most coquettish behavior.
But that also meant that Chibi was willing to show us another side of her personality which she didn't show her real owners - her true nature, her refusal to pander to humans, the untouched, wild part of her character. This is where that sense of mystery that Chibi always left us with came from. I think a prime example was that part of her that I name, for lack of a better term, "Lightning Catcher."
... this cat was as quick as lightning, and at the same time was doing her best to catch lightning. p69-71
The male skimmer I'd become friends with had vanished by the end of August. For a while I regretted the disappearance of my winged friend and his wife from the garden, which had now also been left behind by the old man and the old woman. But I felt as if that same skimmer had been brought back to life along with the bright light of summer. Then--between the effacement of death and this birth that was in a sense a kind of rebirth--I found vividly recalled to me those who had left and would never return.
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