“A man, a cat and two women” by Junichiro Tanizaki

Let’s move onto this little gem of a story. Japanese author… Check. Cat! … Check. Well, that’s it, I don’t really need any more than this. Short review for a short book.

What is it about?

This is the story of a cat, Lily, who stays with the wife when she is left by the husband who leaves with his new partner. It is the story of how the husband pines for his cat and how this affect the relationships around him. It is a human story with a very feline centre.

What makes it good?

We are talking a novella here, and yet you would like to spend more time with these characters. The manipulations and ins-and-outs of relationships are described so effortlessly. Be that cat-man, mother-son, exes, it’s such a vibrant and full of life sketch. It is set in Japan and it shows some interesting aspects of life there, but it is mainly the gently mocking study of human behaviour that is so fascinating.

The style

It feels like a very well spoken neighbour is telling you about those naughty neighbours next door who split up and this, that, the other. With Tanikazi, I always find that reading his words is such a joy. The way he constructs his sentences is magic. Crystalline and not at all baroque, his prose just speaks to me in a way very few other authors do. He could be writing about a cactus growing, and I would read it. And even if he is deeply Japanese and his stories are set in Japan, humans are at the heart of this work and their universal feelings.

Final Mark

Just read it, it won’t disappoint.

8/10

On Bookreads

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