Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

January 17, 2018 | The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is published by Penguin. RRP $29.99 (Harcover), ebook available.

This utterly charming novel reminds me of everything I love about Japan. It has a pared back simplicity which belies depth of story, it has a thoughtful connection with nature that is both subtle and essential to the essence of the text and it is quirky.

The Travelling Cat Chroniclces is the story of a salty stray cat who finds both a home and a name (Nana- Japanese for seven) with Satoru, a lonely man with a kind and loving soul. Together they set off across Japan in a van to visit Satoru’s friends, all while Satoru attempts to find Nana a permanent home.

This book gave me my first book-cry of the year. There are lines in this book that can still make me cry, a month later, just thinking about them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s funny too, and anyone who has ever known a cat, even from a distance, will identify with something in this book. But appreciating animals is not a prerequisite for enjoying this story. Have you ever loved? That is all you need.

Ultimately, this is a book about life and friendship, about the continuum of time.

By the end of this book you will be wondering why the cat on the cover doesn’t resemble Nana. The author explains in her final note, that while researching images for the cover this original Chinese brush painting was found. It’s called, ‘Man and the World’, which a great fit for this book.

It’s translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel,  best known for his work with Haruki Murakami and he does a stellar job (I’ve read some dud translations in my lifetime. This isn’t one of them!)  And in great news… THE TRAVELLING CAT CHRONICLES is due to be made into a live-action Japanese film.

I highly recommend this book. It’s beautiful.


HIRO ARIKAWA lives in Tokyo. A bestseller in Japan, THE TRAVELLING CAT CHRONICLES has become an unexpected international hit


© 2015 Melissa Sargent