Published: May 6th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.
But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.
This delightful book was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a book from the cat’s perspective about it’s life and experiences in Tokyo, but instead found myself reading a collection of short stories featuring different narrators set throughout the city that each feature appearances from the same stray calico cat.
While they appear at first to be connected only by the cat, the author skillfully interweaves the stories and characters, intricately connecting them to craft a rich and vivid tapestry of Tokyo and it’s residents. The book is filled with a cast of fantastic and captivating characters. The most memorable ones for me were Flo, an American woman working as a translator, and Kensuke, a young boy being bullied at school for being half Korean. My only complaint is that we don’t see enough of the cat. While I liked reading about the residents of Tokyo, I would have liked a chapter from his perspective or more of him in their stories.
You are taken through a rainbow of emotions as the author fills the stories with heartbreak, hope, humour and tenderness. He takes you on an adventure of the best and worst that this city has to offer, touching on subjects such as the moral standards in Japanese culture, sexuality, homelessness and loneliness, expertly blending them in amongst the lighthearted aspects of the stories such as cute cat cafes, Street Fighter and manga comics.
Moving, original, immersive and evocative, this striking debut brings Tokyo to life. Wonderfully written and surprising, I devoured it in just a few hours. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little different.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Nick Bradley was born in Germany in 1982 and grew up in Bath. After graduating with a master’s degree in English literature, he went to Japan for “just one year” and returned to England ten years later to attend the Creative Writing MA at UEA, graduating in 2016.
He has worked in a variety of jobs, including: Japanese teacher, English teacher, video game translator, travel writer, and photographer. He speaks Japanese fluently, and recently completed a PhD funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in Creative & Critical Writing at UEA, focussing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature.
The Cat and The City is his first novel
His favourite Street Fighter II character is Ken.
He lives in Norwich. (Aha).
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Thank you to Lisa at TLC Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Atlantic Books for my gifted copy of the book.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx