30th November, 2021
Review: The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa (Picador)
The Cat Who Saved Books is a heartwarming, whimsical fable about the power of books. It talks about how books have the power to heal and addresses the importance of being able to use your imagination.
Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki has to close the secondhand bookshop he inherited from his grandfather. Rintaro's grandfather raised him after the death of his mother, and now that he's gone, Rintaro has to learn to live without his words of wisdom. The bookshop was his grandfather's project of love and is considered too much of a responsibility for a teenage boy. However, when a talking cat named Tiger appears, the two go on a mystical journey to save books that have been imprisoned, destroyed or unloved. This marks the beginning of a strange friendship and an "adventure that will lead them to travel through four different labyrinths to resolve as many existential questions on the importance of reading and on the infinite and inscrutable strength of love as they can".
I read this book on a cold day while a gale was blowing around the house, rattling the windows. In a way, this was the perfect setting for reading such a whimsical story. The Cat Who Saved Books is quirky tale which - over and over - stresses the importance of books, human relationships and the necessity to believe in yourself. It is a simple story that heavily leans on books such as The Little Prince with the protagonist philosophising about the most important topics of life.
I liked this cute blend of fairy tale with magical realism, but wasn't blown away by it. It is a book that will surely appeal to book- and catlovers as well as readers interesting in Japan and its culture. For me, it was a beautiful palate cleanser with interesting ideas.
Rating: 3/5 stars
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