The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Hiro Arikawa

translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
Doubleday 2019
A book review by Danny Yee © 2022
Satoru is taking his cat Nana on a road trip around Japan, visiting old friends from school. But why is he trying so hard to find someone to look after his beloved cat?

The larger part of The Travelling Cat Chronicles consists of long flashbacks to Satoru's past, to his friendships with Kosuke in primary school, with Yoshimine in middle school, and with Chikako and Sugi in secondary school. And these friends have current problems: Kosuke's wife has left him, Yoshimine has a kitten who won't hunt, and there are tensions in Chikako and Sugi's marriage. And Satoru's aunt Noriko can only deal with the world by carefully planning everything.

Satoru does nothing wrong. He has an unerring sensitivity to the feelings of others — when he convinces Kosuke to threaten to jump off the roof to try to make his father let him keep a cat, his intentions are good. A character who is kind and considerate to others, and seems to suffer no doubts or qualms of his own, is not necessarily the ideal protagonist, but this is offset by his more humanly flawed friends and family, and by the perspective of a cat who doesn't always understand what is going on.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles remains light-hearted despite some sombre themes — my daughter read it at eight and loved it — but it has a satisfying heft to it.

March 2022

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%T The Travelling Cat Chronicles
%A Arikawa, Hiro
%M Japanese
%F Gabriel, Philip
%I Doubleday
%D 2019
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780857524195
%P 247pp