The Guest Cat is the story of a couple in their 30’s who are visited by a cat during their time renting a cottage in Tokyo. The cat, named Chibi, is a stray who is taken in by some neighbors. But with its frequent visits to the couple, Chibi slowly changes the couple’s life and they begin to feel like the cat is really theirs and not just a guest.
Translated by Eric Selland, it is a very short book (only 140 pages), and reads more like an essay than a fiction piece. There’s very little dialogue and a lot of description, but the story of the cat’s effect on the couple is woven seamlessly into other small connecting stories.
Honestly, because The Guest Cat is so short, there’s not much more to say about it besides that I’m not surprised that it’s a best-seller in France and a recipient of Japan’s Kiyama Shoheir Literary Award. It was beautifully written and poetic, which makes sense since Takashi Hiraide is a poet, and is definitely a story that I will have to read several more times to fully grasp all of the themes throughout (and since it’s short that should not be a problem). I would highly recommend this book to readers interested in literary short stories and poetry. Also, you do not need to be a lover of cats to enjoy this book.