If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura | Book Review

Genki Kawamura’s debut novel, If Cats Disappeared from the World, falls in the category of books that ultimately, through different manners, put things into perspective when it comes to aspects regarding human connection and, generally, the meaning of one’s life – or rather the lack of it and what each individual defines as “meaning”. Already renowned in Japanese literature, the theme of death – combined with cats – represents the core of the short but utterly meaningful novel that revolves around a young man receiving one of the most shattering news one can receive during their lifetime.

Genki Kawamura’s tale delightfully embodies magic realism, and it is through this writing combining naturalistic techniques and surreal elements that the author manages to determine the reader to explore their surroundings and, eventually, conclude that beauty lies in the mundane things. Following the heart wrenching diagnosis the protagonist receives, the events unfold during the course of a week, each day being influenced by the decision he has taken during the previous day. While the narrative itself is quite enjoyable and poignant, it is the protagonist’s realization that the reader will ultimately connect with and by which they will be propelled into a state of self-analysis. After all, this is what Japanese literature usually does: forces one to embark on a journey towards self-discovery. Upon praising the book, one might ask why I rated it only four stars, and my answer would be that, while I certainly appreciate the bluntness of the writing, I am one of those readers who adore metaphors, long sentences and boring descriptions, which this book lacked. However, it is rather a matter of personal preferences than a critique to the author’s abilities. As far as I have noticed, Japanese literature is a bit quirky and often characterized by a directness that many prefer over tiring and meaningless descriptions or hidden metaphors.

If Cats Disappeared from the World can be easily included on the list of novels that will simultaneously warm and break your heart, after which you will have to pick yourself up and consider all the lessons you were left with. Essentially, if you are looking for a heartfelt but not sappy, sentimental and carefully tailored read, I believe this is your book. However, be aware that it doesn’t explore certain aspects in very great detail but will move you through just a couple of simple words. The novel was sent to me by Libris, for which I’m grateful, and can be found here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Title: If Cats Disappeared from the World
Author: Genki Kawamura
Publication Date: 2018
Publisher: Picador
Format: Paperback|202 pages

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