There’s a sparse and young, almost delicate sense to Genki Kawamura’s writing that cheered me up no end even though this was a book about death. The lightness to life and what we hold too close is really what this book is about. Kawamura is 39 and is now the author of three books; If Cats Disappeared from the World is his first one and has sold over a million copies.
This is the second Japanese book I’ve read this year about cats, both translated from Japanese by Eric Selland, and they both touch on social isolation and the love we give.
Our narrator has only days to live and is tempted by the devil in giving up more and more, not only from his life but from everyone’s, for one more day each time. Through his daily sacrifices and before we get to his cat Cabbage, we find out about his relationship with his family and what has led to him being alone.
It’s a special and simple tale, which opens up a path to joy more than anything. Even when the descriptions felt rather young I couldn’t help but read on. The facts seem simple:
by making something disappear from the world, I could live for one more day. Let’s see now, that would be thirty items a month, 365 per year.
But in reality, the things we choose sometimes mean more than we think and the consequences of losing even our most seemingly trivial items (although the devil is specific in what he wants, he doesn’t ask for trinkets) are far-reaching.
This is worth a read.
If Cats Disappeared from the World is available now.