The Guest Cat


Takashi Hiraide
translated by Eric Selland

A wonderful novel about a visiting cat who brings joy into a Tokyo couple’s life

A New York Times bestseller and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat (by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide) is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic, but deeply felt, ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copyediting, and no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife — the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens...

More Praise…

“It’s clear there is a tradition of literary works centering on or featuring cats in modern Japanese, and we now have from New Directions a translation of a splendid addition to that list. ... a work of subtleties revealed only with repeated readings. I recommend it unreservedly to the general reader.”

— Paul McCarthy, The Japan Times

“The little feline sets off a chain of disquisitions on nature, destiny, joy, pleasure, and sorrow.”

Huffington Post

“This is a beautiful, ornate read, brimming with philosophical observation, humor and intelligence, leaving the reader anticipating more translated works of Hiraide.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A wonderful tale about the desire to possess and the pain of absence. And such writing! Precise, delicate, enchanting.”


“A seemingly endless string of shape-shifting objects and experiences, whose splintering effect is enacted via a unique combination of speed and minutiae: what initially reads like free association turns out to be a near-microscopic record of emotions and phenomena.”

— Alan Gilbert, The Believer

“Hiraide's work really shines ”

— Kenzaburo Oe

The Guest Cat is a rare treasure.”


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