Book Review

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

It’s no secret that I love Japan and read a lot of Japanese novels to learn more about the culture. I also love cats. Naturally, when I saw the title and the cover of this book it was as if it had been written personally for me. After reading it, I still think that as I just loved every page and every character. 

The Cat and the City shows moments of several, seemingly, strangers throughout Tokyo. All of which feature a mesmerizing, green-eyed, calico cat, which seems to follow them around almost like some kind of ghost or omen. From a homeless man taking up residence in an abandoned hotel to a foreign writer trying to write haikus; from a disillusioned detective to a hermit unable to face the world outside his door; this novel explores the lives of a variety of people showing how rich the city of Tokyo is. 

Initially I thought that this novel was going to be a collection of short stories with the odd recurring character popping up every now and then. Whilst this novel is sort of a series of short stories, they blend together in such a way where they don’t feel separate at all, especially when you begin to realise how certain characters are connected. Those little moments when you piece together who people really are and that you know they’ve been mentioned before is joyous and surprising. 

Considering how many different characters we are introduced to in the novel, Bradley manages to give every one of them a unique voice. Not only does he do this through his wonderful writing style, but through the different mediums in which he tells the story. As well as the typical novel structure, there are also times where the story is told through a series of haikus, footnotes in a translated story within the story, and a manga (which I particularly loved as it was so fresh and also one of my favourite of the ‘short stories’). 

These characters, combined with the variations in writing, truly gives the novel life in such a way that brilliantly captures Tokyo. The feelings I have when I am in Tokyo all came back to me just through reading this novel. With each chapter, each page, I just fell more in love with the novel. Bradley simultaneously tells one large story as well as provides snapshots that, although brief, gives a clear picture of those characters and their lives. 

It goes without saying at this point, but, I highly recommend this novel. I’m not just saying that because I am fascinated by Japan’s culture, but this book was a very refreshing read showing as many different aspects as it was able to in less than 300 pages. The book itself, as well as the writing, is very unique and I am very excited to see what Bradley does next.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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