A wonderful sui generis novel about a visiting cat who brings joy into a couple’s life in Tokyo
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 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."
About the Author
Takashi Hiraide was born in Moji, Kitakyushu in 1950. He has published numerous books of poetry as well as several books of genre-bending essays, including one on poetics and baseball. He currently lives in the west suburbs of Tokyo with a cat and his wife, the poet Michiyo Kawano.
Eric Selland lives in Tokyo. He is the author of The Condition of Music, Inventions, and Still Lifes.
What initially reads like free association turns out to be a near-microscopic record of emotion and phenomena. — Alan Gilbert - The Believer
The best novels are often the ones that change us. Over time, they stay with us- like small miracles. Takashi Hiraide, the Japanese poet and novelist, blindsided me- he shows himself to be a poet of the highest grade. A rare treasure, beautiful and profound; whether you're a cat lover or not, don't pass this one up. ultimately, it's about what it means to love and to lose. Even dog lovers will relate. — Juan Vidal - NPR
A beautiful, ornate read, brimming with philosophical observation, humor and intelligence. — Publishers Weekly
An unusually intimate, detailed and vivid picture of a place that is simultaneously private and open. — V.V. Ganeshananthan - The New York Times Book Review
It’s clear there is a tradition of literary works centering on or
featuring cats in modern Japanese, and we now have from New Directions a
translation of a splendid addition to that list. (...) a work of
subtleties revealed only with repeated readings. I recommend it
unreservedly to the general reader. — Paul McCarthy - The Japan Times
The little feline sets off a chain of disquisitions on nature, destiny, joy, pleasure, and sorrow — Nina Sankovitch - Huffington Post
A wonderful tale about the desire to possess and the pain of absence. And such writing! Precise, delicate, enchanting. — Atmospheres