The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
Best for: Anyone who likes gorgeous, evocative writing and simple but deep stories.
In a nutshell: A writer and his wife ‘share’ custody of a neighborhood cat.
Line that sticks with me: “The garden just didn’t seem the same. It wasn’t our garden anymore. It had lost all its energy and spirit.”
Why I chose it: It was on the ‘popular with our readers’ shelves at the local bookstore and looked pretty cute.
Review: This is a very short (136 pages in a small-form book) little story that I found to be lovely, sweet, honest, and sad. Spoiler – the cat dies at some point. But that is just part of the story, and while it is sad and definitely colors the parts of the story that follow, I didn’t find myself wracked in sobs or anything, as the author is not attempting to manipulate my feelings to that degree.
The narrator and his wife live in what used to be the guest house on the edge of the grounds of a large estate, which is occupied by an elderly couple. They also have a set of neighbors, who ‘own’ Chibi, an independent and playful female cat. Chibi takes to wandering through the small neighborhood, and has a profound impact on the narrator and his wife. The story follows how Chibi enters their world, changes their world, and then leaves their world.
There is very little dialog in this book – but there is tons of rich scene setting. I can picture the gardens, the home, and of course this cat. I really enjoyed this writing – it is very different from what I usually read – and think anyone who loves any type of animal will likely enjoy this book.