The Travelling Cat Chronicles
By Hiro Arikawa (Translated by Philip Gabriel)
Reviewer: Sadie-Jane Nunis
Quirky Japanese Story not Just for Cat Lovers
If you have ever read any stories by Japanese authors, you will realise that they are very good storytellers who tend to lean towards the quirky side. Also, what I have come to realise is that when they tell tales from the viewpoint of an animal for example, you know that you are in for a treat as somehow, they always manage to give the animals a believable voice.
Now, here’s the thing, because I am unable to read Japanese, I rely on translated stories. So far, I have assumed that the bigger publishing houses pay for the best translators so that the original stories are not lost in translation. I believe this to be so as some of the things that have been written by some Japanese authors, well, let’s just say, you can’t make that stuff up.
Anyway, the story is quirky as I mentioned (in other words, bizarre) and though I’m neither a cat lover or hater, for the most part I enjoyed this book. I found it interesting as there really wasn’t any real plot to focus on or maybe Nana the cat is the key focus (hence the title). Nana the cat was initially owned by Satoru, a Japanese man and then passed on to other people he knows to look after Nana. I didn’t understand why this was so until the end, so prepare yourself for that.
This book to me felt like a partial introduction to Japan, and not just a story for cat lovers. The words reel you in most of the time but I was a little confused initially as it started off from a third person perspective with regards to the backstory and then later moved to being told from Nana’s perspective. Honestly, I wished the entire book was told from just one perspective. Nana appears to be quite a talented cat too as it manages to do some of the things that even the average cat is unable to however, again this is a fictional story, I mean come on, for the most part, the cat is the narrator so just take that with a pinch of salt.
Overall, fairly quick read and though I have read quite a number of books by various Japanese authors, I found that there was something delightfully different and even refreshing when I read this one. I would be interested to read other titles by her, however I do hope that it is translated by the same translator if possible, or at least, by someone as skilled as I have a feeling, a lot of the essence of the book was not lost during its translation.
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