The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

The Cat and the City is an imaginative debut from Nick Bradley; the writing is very accomplished and the concept is intriguing. It is not quite a novel, but much more than a collection of short stories. Normally, I find them very unsatisfying and disjointed, but the stories in The Cat and the City are connected, no matter how tenuously, and highlight the loneliness and alienation of living in a city with more than thirty-seven million inhabitants.

The green-eyed calico cat weaves its way in and out of the lives of the various characters in this book – some native Japanese, some foreign – and shines a spotlight on their story before moving on. The connections are not always obvious, but if you keep reading it will all start to make sense.  

The writer plays with different styles – haiku, manga, science fiction to name but a few – to give us a warts-and-all portrait of life in Tokyo in the period leading up to the 2020 Olympic Games. Although written from a Western perspective, the writer displays a vast knowledge of Japanese culture that felt authentic to me (I have never been to Japan, but would love to go there someday).

I chose to read this book because of the subject matter and the attractive cover art; I was not disappointed. Obviously, I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, but overall it was beautifully written and thought provoking. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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