Nick Bradley || The Cat and the City

Sometimes you miss out on a novel completely and you are all of a sudden gifted a little jewel on your birthday. The Cat and the City had escaped my attention, fortunately I was given a second chance.

The Cat and the City has two main characters: Tokia and a calico cat. The novel is actually a collection of short stories, containing recognizable elements of the other stories. The cat for instance, and Tokio off course. A city on the eve of the Olympics (though pre-Corona) in which the old, traditional and a newer world collide, in which people try to find a place of their own in an environment that is human contact unfriendly.

Bradley has clustered stories on diverging characters and made them in to one cohesive account. Sometimes by a chance meeting in a cafe, sometime because characters occur in several stories. Bradley creates cohesiveness whilst maintaining sufficient space to tell the varying stories. The cat is the one consistent element, present in every story. Sometimes just on a picture, sometimes almost the main character.

Tokio presents itself as a vibrant metropolis, one with high demands on its inhabitants. The city is busy, moving and growing, Japanese society being even more demanding when it comes to work codes. Living space is not easy to come by, outsiders are feeling less and less welcome. The Olympics make for a clean, restored and revitalised city. One might wonder whether everybody is happy about the consequences of having a tidied city.

Bradley introduces us to hard-working folk who do their utmost to build a life. He also has us step into the underground world of the homeless and the criminal. Offering us an insight at the same time into the problems of young people trying to establish meaningful relationships. Their careers are demanding, Japanese culture makes it extremely difficult for women especially to have a relationship with a man on an equal basis. The stories address all the above in an almost intrusive way.

What I loved about The Cat and the City is the light-footed way Bradley presents the stories managing to address serious issues all the same. Almost playful in a way that keeps the reader alert to the underlying, darker layers. The Cat and the City is not just a collection of nice stories, the darker layers make for its ultimate strength; subtly processed, omnipresent. And well, it does add a nice touch that the obvious main character is a mischievous calico, just like my own Sophy and Tinker. No explanation required for fellow calico owners.

About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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