Monday, October 22, 2018

The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa (author), Philip Gabriel (translator)

Berkley, ISBN 9780451491336, October 2018

Satoru and Nana meet when Nana is, no longer a kitten, but sill a young cat, and Satoru is perhaps around thirty. Initially, Satoru is just feeding the feral Nana, but when a car hits Nana and breaks his (yes, his) leg, Satoru takes him in, and takes him to a veterinarian. The name Nana comes from the fact that the cat's tail is hooked, roughly in the shame of a seven. Nana is the word for seven.

It's Nana who tells us this story, with a cat's judgment on the strange behavior of humans. Nana and his human live together happily for several years, and then one day, Satoru announces that he's very sorry, but he has no choice, and Satoru and Nana are off in the silver van, to visit an old childhood friend of Satoru's.

He wants the friend to take in Nana, and take care of him, because he can no longer do so. We don't, yet, find out why. It does not work out; yet by the time Satoru and Nana leave, the friend has a new plan for both mending his broken relationship with his wife, and a new direction for the photography studio he took over from his father.

Nana, and we, also learn important things about Satoru's early life, including a good deal about his relationship with his first cat, Hachi.

They keep making trips, further and further afield, to visit Satoru's old friends, ostensibly seeking a new home for Nana. Yet Nana realizes that, every time it doesn't work out and they leave together, Satoru is relieved, not distressed. He doesn't want to part with Nana. With each visit, Nana learns more about Satorou's past, and also realizes that they're leaving each friend a little better off.

Also, though, Nana realizes that what other cats and dogs are telling him is right--that something is very wrong with Satoru.

This is a warm, loving story, with a deep appreciation of cats and the roles they play in our lives. It's also a story populated by decent, caring people, who don't always make the right choices, but do have the right intentions.

I loved it. Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.