So this book has a cat in it so I knew I had to read it! I love books that have cats in them especially if they show the relationship between the cat and their owner. So I was really looking forward to reading it and I really did enjoy this book.
This review has minor spoilers.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .
Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.
This beautiful tale is translated from the Japanese by Eric Selland, who also translated The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. Fans of The Guest Cat will also surely love If Cats Disappeared from the World.
This book was different to what I was expecting but I still really enjoyed it. The book is thought provoking and deals with death and how we live our lives. The story follows an unnamed postman who has been told by his doctor that he has only months to live, then one day the devil appears and in exchange for making something disappear from the world he will get an extra day to live. This is when he begins to reflect on his life as each day something else disappears. Although this book has lots of humour, with the main character making light of some situations, overall the book is pretty sad as he realises how many regrets he has in life and no time to fix them.
He comes to many realises about the way he lived his life from not staying in touch with friends, how he should have been more affectionate towards his mother and how he wishes he had done things differently with his ex-girlfriend. This book makes us think about how we live our lives and that we should be the best version of ourselves and find joy in the smaller things in life.
We come to realise that each thing that the devil makes disappear is something that is significant to the main character. Were they chosen for a specific reason, to make him realise his mistakes?
The first item is phones, and while he thinks about what effect it will have to not have mobiles, the advantages and disadvantages of having phones. He spent most of his relationship talking to his ex-girlfriend talking to her on the phone instead of actually having conversations when they were together.
The second thing to disappear is films. This connects him to both his girlfriend and his friend in school, who is a huge film buff and who he lost contact with. He thinks about how he didn’t have any significant friends in his life to spend time with in his final days.
The third thing to disappear is clocks which connects him to his estranged father. His father is a clock repairer and someone who he hasn’t spoken to in years. He thinks about how when his mother was alive she wanted them to reconcile and thinks about why he hasn’t spoken to him.
The last thing that the devil decides to make disappear is his cat, Cabbage. This is when he begins to weigh the value of his life over making things disappear. Is it worth it to lose his only friend and the one thing that still connects him to his mum to have an extra day of life? He thinks about what his life would be like without Cabbage, and what would happen to Cabbage if he died? He starts to think about if anyone would miss him if he died, would anyone remember him? It makes you think about how you lived your life and whether you have lived a meaningful life and if anyone will remember you once you’re gone.
I think the only issue I had with the book was that the translation felt a bit awkward at times though I’m not sure if it’s the writing style itself or just the translation.
I do recommend reading this book it really makes you think about your life and how we spend everyday and how we should reflect on our lives and also about our relationships with family and friends.