Cats & Japanese literature. A treat to all the feline lovers.
Imagine you went into a grocery store and brought home a packet of a new flavour of instant noodles not like your usual taste. You decide to cook them one particular morning. From the look of it seems like a usual dish, but the smell really draws you in. One by one, slowly and steadily you experience its flavour with every bite. Each time as the noodle slurp in your mouth, you understand the seasoning better, leaving you with a desire to never fall short of the noodles and just continue eating.
This is exactly what this book made me feel. I was consumed in the story. I was lost in the reverie of the essence this narrative presents itself with. It became very difficult to separate from the book and I have shed tears of joy and grief not knowing when to stop.
The story starts when Satoru found an injured stray cat and brought him home. He named him Nana as his tail resembles the Japanese character of number seven. He nursed him back to health. Satoru found a friend in Nana and Nana grew fond of him. He decides to stay with Satoru even when he fully recovers. Nana doesn’t consider himself a pet, he has opinions, he has choices. They both found solace with each other and lived happily.
Forward five years, Satoru and Nana embark upon a journey through Japan, a journey down the memory lane to find a new home for Nana. Why does he want to give up Nana?
A journey across Japan seems like an expedition
They travel together in Satoru’s silver van. Their first destination is his childhood friend Kosuke. Reminiscing the past, we come to know that Satoru had a cat before, Hachi but he had to give him up. The second friend they visit is Yoshimine. His third visit is to meet Sugi and Chikako who had been his friends from high school and college. Quite cleverly Nana conspires in not staying with either of them.
Their journey across the country witnessing the sunset and meadows is the much-needed detour. The vivid imagery of Arikawa speaks to the reader and adds to the already enchanting beauty of Japan.
Satoru – An enigmatic protagonist
Satoru has the intriguing enigma around him which created ambiguity in my mind. The journey unveils his past and peels away the mysterious layer created around him bit by bit. Right from his childhood to the present. His decision of finding a new home for Nana remains open for speculations throughout. Maybe it’s a financial issue in the aftermath of losing a job. We never for sure until the very end.
Satoru has always been kind, loyal, helpful, and understanding no matter what the circumstances were. He has always thought about the benefit of others even when it means to leave Nana. His conscience never wavered from doing the right thing even if it means to not express his love to Chikako because of Sugi.
Nana’s narration is funny, and amusing
Getting into Nana’s head was a delight to read. He is a funny, proud cat who doesn’t get along with other pets and is often mocked by other animals for being way too much pampered by Satoru. He comes up with a reason for not living with any of Satoru’s friend. Deep down he doesn’t want to leave by his side. He wants to remain Satoru’s cat (not pet). Through thick and thin, inseparable, attached to the core suiting each other perfectly.
Heartfelt outburst of emotions
This book entangled me into a whirlpool of sentiments. Little did I know about the impending outburst of my emotions while picking this one to read. I cried a lot. I went ahead without reading the blurb and got pulled into the story page by page. It didn’t leave me for days.
The book is heartwarming enough to reassure your beliefs in friendship. Heart wrenching enough to make you uncontrollably sob for hours. Exhilarating enough to leave you with a smile. No amount of stars is enough for this one. I urge you to read this book if you haven’t already.
Have you read this book? Do you read Japanese literature? Do you have any favourites?
If you consider getting a copy after reading this post, please buy it from Amazon