Book reviews

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What if you found out that you only have days left to live and the only way you can extend your life and your time on Earth is to give up something forever in exchange? What would you give up?

This is the central premise of Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World (or sekai kara neko ga kieta nara). It is a short but moving read about what really matters in life. It can easily fit as a slow afternoon read, or maybe your weekend novel where you take the time to reflect about the things in your life. Believe me, you’ll definitely find yourself digesting the contents of this book.

When faced with the inevitability of the end, it has been often reported that us, humans, tend to see our lives flash right before our eyes, as if reaching within the depths of our souls in order to reminisce moments that are most valuable to us. A popular plot of many books and movies showcases the value of life as something not measured through one’s accomplishments, nor is it found in the accumulation of enormous amounts of money. Rather, meaning is found in people and the relationships we build with others. This is what the main character of the novel allows us to experience, as he comes into terms with his mortality.

I have read novels by Japanese authors before and have always found Japanese literature compelling. This book by Genki Kawamura is no different. I admit there are parts in the middle I just want to get over with (it’s me being impatient, as usual), but I have to say it is a must that you read through every page of this book. The entire experience will have you smiling one moment, and annoyed the next. Or laughing out loud at one chapter, and then crying afterwards. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but all leading to that moment of insightful self-reflection.

I give this book 3.5 stars. It is a good read, on the overall. I recommend it, for sure. I like the message, I like the plot — how it is true to life and is very relatable. If anything, I just wish there’s more to the ending. But I guess it doesn’t really matter as it’s not the point of the story. I’ve enjoyed and gained a whole lot through the entire reading process anyway.

There is also movie version of this book, which I have yet to see. For now, I continue to ponder on the many lessons I have learned from this read.

  • Title: If Cats Disappeared from the World
  • Author: Genki Kawamura
  • Year published: 2012
  • Publisher: Flat Iron Books
  • Total number of pages: 168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-250-29405-0
  • Purchased from: National Bookstore
  • Purchase price: Php 275.00 (got it on sale, already hardcover)

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