Book Review – If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

books, reviews

img_0220-014622480142293220687.jpeg5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 I saw this book in a bookshop a month ago and immediately wanted to read it. But, considering my TBR list is so huge, I decided against it. Until a few weeks later when I couldn’t resist anymore and bought a cheap copy. I couldn’t wait to start reading it. As soon as I’d done with Love, Nina I did it. And, if I hadn’t already passed my GoodReads challenge score, it would have been a perfect read. I finished it in 3 days, which for me is kind of miraculous. Does it help that I’m on holiday this week? Certainly but let’s not take away from my achievements.

What would you give up for an extra day of life? That’s the scenario that our unnamed narrator comes face-to-face with in If Cats Disappeared From The World. Only hours after doctors give him the worst possible prognosis: he has an incurable brain tumour and has, at most, months to live. When he returns to his flat, he is visited by the Devil, informed that he will die the next day, and offered an interesting deal. Every day, he can agree to get rid of one thing from the world and, in exchange, he will get an extra 24 hours to live. As the week goes on, he finds it harder and harder to erase objects from the world. Especially when it starts to really affect the people he loves.

This is a cute and really charming novella. It’s just the right amount of weird and, because of the subject matter, deals with quite dark themes. And it hits on a very relatable topic: if you knew you were going to die, what would you do in exchange for a longer life? This book smacks you round the head with your own mortality and then keeps the hits coming. This is a story about life, love, family, and our longevity. The narrator lives a pretty solitary life. His mother died a few years ago and he hasn’t spoken to his father since. He is unmarried, has no close friends, and mostly socialises with his cat, Cabbage. He starts to regret the choices he makes as soon as he learns about his tumour and can’t help but take the Devil up on his offer.

But, as it turns out, things are that simple. He starts to reach out to people of his past and comes to realise that the consequences of his deal are further reaching than he could possibly have imagined. As his week goes on, he begins to realise that everything has its place in the world. This is a great and insightful narrative. If you’re a fan of story and action then, honestly, you’ll hate it. This is a slow and steady exploration of humanity and existence. It’s a stream of consciousness novel that delves into the past and raises as many questions as it attempts to answer. It’s an interesting concept and it is beautifully realised. It’s an emotional narrative and I came way from it with a lot of thoughts about my own life.

My only concern about this novella is that I’m not sure how much it loses in the translation. I think it still works pretty well but there were some moments that didn’t seem to flow as well. But this is hardly noticeable. If Cats Disappeared From The World is a delightful story and an incredibly readable book. It was a great length but it does leave you wishing it was longer. Though we never know his name, the narrator is a developed character and feels real. It might feel like a thin premise but there is so much going on here. So many little themes and concepts to think about. It’s a quick read but it will definitely stay with you long after you’re done.

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