#Book Review: The Goodbye Cat

Author: Hiro Arikawa

The Goodby Cat received mixed reviews (negative; positive) and I was aware of it when I proposed it to my British book club which we now run online, since my relocation to the US. Now that I read it, I am none the wiser and don’t know what to say. On one side, I loved it, but on the other, I didn’t.

What I loved are two stories, for this is a book of short stories, The Goodbye Cat and Finding Hatchi as well as the last story that deals with Satoru, Hatchi’s original owner. These two stories could have been a book of their own whereas the others are not as well-written and appear shallow without sufficient depth to their stories. The dialogues are generally not deep, and descriptions of humans and cats are not sufficient. Cats are described to an extent so I kind of managed to picture them in my head plus there are illustrations in the book, but not humans. I simply had no idea what humans looked like and direct conversations appeared lame and very, very basic. I am not sure if this is because it is a translation. Not to say the translator is not good; I generally never enjoyed books originally written in English which were then translated to Croatian. Some dialogues seemed cheesy, and some expressions and behaviours simply did not fit the Croatian language and culture. So, the same might be the case here. I read a translation, and it did not make sense.

One of my all-time favourite books is One Day by David Nicholls. I loved the Croatian translation I originally read despite language and behavioural conventions that bothered me because it tackles one day of characters’ lives over many years, which appealed to me. But, when I read that same book again, a few years ago, after living in England for many years, I loved it and appreciated it for what it is, a beautifully written class story.

What I certainly did like about The Goodby Cat is that it celebrates cats and the positive impact they have on our lives for those of us lucky to discover them and share lives with them. In stories, cats are portrayed as in love with their humans to the point they want to live a day longer than their owner, so the owner is not sad when they go, how they made a parent be a better parent because of looking after a kitten and generally, how they look and care after us and make our lives better. The book is also about the finality of life both for humans and cats; in some stories, cats die, and in some humans die. But this is portrayed in a way that celebrates life and cats and I did like that. I also wondered what my cats think because of this book.

There is another book by this author, The Travelling Cat Chronicles which was written a few years before this one, and that according to reviews is linked to this book, particularly the Satoru character from what I understand (two stories in The Goodbye Cat are about him). Maybe, if I read that, I will understand the whole thing better but for now, mixed feelings. Both loved and hated the book but recommend it anyway as something totally different and if you are a cat lover, the book will make you scoop your cats and cuddle them more than ever so that is a positive, certainly.

Thank you for reading!

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