Arikawa, Hiro The Travelling Cat Chronicles

ISBN 13: 9780451491336

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

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9780451491336: The Travelling Cat Chronicles
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A book that “speak[s] volumes about our need for connection—human, feline or otherwise” (The San Francisco Chronicle), The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a life-affirming anthem to kindness and self-sacrifice that shows how the smallest things can provide the greatest joy—the perfect gift for cat lovers and travellers!

We take journeys to explore exotic new places and to return to the comforts of home, to visit old acquaintances and to make new friends. But the most important journey is the one that shows us how to follow our hearts...

An instant international bestseller and indie bestseller, The Travelling Cat Chronicles has charmed readers around the world. With simple yet descriptive prose, this novel gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru's longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe... 

With his crooked tail—a sign of good fortune—and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

On New York Post's Required Reading List

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Hiro Arikawa is a renowned author from Tokyo. Her novel The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a bestseller in Japan and is due to be published around the world.

Philip Gabriel is a highly experienced translator of Japanese and is best known for his translation work with Haruki Murakami.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

Copyright © 2018 Hiro Arikawa

 

I am a cat. As yet, I have no name. There’s a famous cat in our country who once made this very statement.

             I have no clue how great that cat was, but at least when it comes to having a name I got there first. Whether I like my name is another matter, since it glaringly doesn’t fit my gender, me being male and all. I was given it about five years ago – around the time I came of age.

            Back then, I used to sleep on the bonnet of a silver van in the parking lot of an apartment building. Why there? Because no one would ever shoo me away. Human beings are basically huge monkeys that walk upright, but they can be pretty full of themselves. They leave their cars exposed to the elements, but a few paw prints on the paintwork and they go ballistic.

            At any rate, the bonnet of that silver van was my favourite place to sleep. Even in winter, the sun made it all warm and toasty, the perfect spot for a daytime nap.

            I stayed there until spring arrived, which meant I’d survived one whole cycle of seasons. One day, I was lying curled up, having a snooze, when I suddenly sensed a warm, intense gaze upon me. I unglued my eyelids a touch and saw a tall, lanky young man, eyes narrowed, staring down at me as I lay prone.

            ‘Do you always sleep there?’ he asked.

            I suppose so. Do you have a problem with that?

            ‘You’re really cute, do you know that?’

            So they tell me.

            ‘Is it okay if I stroke you?’

            No, thanks. I batted one front paw at him in what I hoped to be a gently threatening way.

‘Aren’t you a stingy one?’ the man said, pulling a face.

Well, how would you like it if you were sleeping and somebody came by and rubbed you all over?

            ‘I guess you want something in exchange for being stroked?’

            Quick on the draw, this one. Quite right. Got to get something in return for having my sleep disturbed. I heard a rustling and popped my head up. The man’s hand had disappeared into a plastic bag.

            ‘I don't seem to have bought anything cat-suitable.’

            No sweat, mate. Feline beggars can't be choosers. That scallop jerky looks tasty.

            I sniffed at the package sticking out of the plastic bag and the man, smiling wryly, tapped me on the head with his fingers.

Hey there, let’s not jump the gun.

            ‘That’s not good for you, cat,’ he said. ‘Plus it’s too spicy.’

            Too spicy, says you? Do you think a hungry stray like me gives a ratsmonkey about his health? Getting something into my stomach right this minute – that’s my top priority.

            At last, the man liberated a slice of fried chicken from a sandwich, stripping off the batter, laying the flesh on his palm and holding it out to me.

You want me to eat right out of your hand? You think you’ll get all friendly with me by doing that? I’m not that easy. Then again, it’s not often I get to indulge in fresh meat – and it looks kind of succulent – so perhaps a little compromise is in order.

            As I chomped down on the chicken, I felt a couple of human fingers slide from under my chin to behind my ears. He scratched me softly. I mean, I’ll permit a human who feeds me to touch me for a second, but this guy was pretty clever about it. If he were to give me a couple more tidbits, scratching under my chin would be up for grabs, too. I rubbed my cheek against his hand.

            The man smiled, pulled the meat from the second half of the sandwich, stripped off the batter, and held it out. I wanted to tell him I wouldn’t be impartial to the batter, either. It would fill me up even more.

            I let him stroke me properly to repay him for the food, but now it was time to close up shop.

            Just as I began to raise a front paw and send him on his way, the man said, ‘Okay, see you later.’

             He retrieved his hand and walked off, heading up the stairs of the apartment building.

            That’s how we first met. It wasn’t until a little later that he finally gave me my name.

 

From that moment on, I found crunchy cat food underneath the silver van every night. One human fistful – a full meal for a cat – just behind the rear tyre.

            If I was around when the man turned up to leave food, he’d wrest some touch-time from me, but when I wasn’t there he’d humbly leave an offering and disappear.

            Sometimes, another cat would beat me to it, or the man would be away and I’d wait in vain till morning for my crunchies. But, by and large, I could count on him for one square meal a day. Humans are quite flighty, so I don't rely on them a hundred per cent. A stray cat’s skill lies in building up a complex web of connections in order to survive on the streets.

            Acquaintances who understood each other, that’s what the man and I had become. But when he and I had settled into a comfortable relationship, fate intervened to change everything.

            And fate hurt like hell.

            I was crossing the road one night when I became suddenly dazzled by a car’s headlights. I was about to dart away when a piercing horn sounded. And that’s when it all went wrong. Startled, I was a split second late in leaping aside, and bang! the car rammed into me and sent me flying.

            I wound up in the bushes by the side of the road. The pain that shot through my body was like nothing I’d experienced before. But I was alive.

            I cursed as I tried to stand up, and even let out a scream. Oww! Oww! My right hind leg hurt like you wouldn't believe.

            I sank to the ground and twisted my upper half to lick the wound, only to find – good Lord! A bone was sticking out!

            Bite wounds and cuts I can mostly look after with my tongue, but this was beyond me. Through the wrenching pain, this bone protruding from my leg was making its presence known in no uncertain terms.

            What should I do? What can I do?

            Somebody, help me! But that was idiotic. Nobody was going to help a stray.

            Then I remembered the man who came every night to leave me crunchies.

            Maybe he could help. Why this thought came to me, I don’t know – we’d always kept our distance, with occasional stroking time in thanks for his offerings. But it was worth a try.

            I set off along the pavement, dragging my right hind leg with the bone jabbing out. Several times my body gave out, as if to say, I can't take it, it’s just too painful. Not one. More. Step.

            By the time I reached the silver van, dawn was breaking.

            I really couldn’t take another step. This is it, I thought. 

            I cried out at the top of my lungs.

            Oww . . . owwwww!

            Again and again I screamed, until my voice finally gave out. It killed me even to call out, to be honest with you.

            Just then, I heard someone come down the stairs of the apartment building. When I looked up. I saw it was the man.

            ‘I thought it was you.’

            When he saw me close up, he turned pale.

            ‘What happened? Were you hit by a car?’

            Hate to admit it, but I messed up.

            ‘Does it hurt? It looks like it.’

            Enough of the irritating questions. Have a little pity for a wounded cat, okay?

            ‘It sounded like you were desperate, the way you were screaming, and it woke me up. You were calling for me, weren’t you, cat?’

            Yes, yes, I certainly was! But you took your time getting here.

            ‘You thought I might be able to help you, didn’t you?’

            I guess so, Sherlock. Then the man started sniffing and snuffling. Why was he crying?

            ‘I’m proud of you, remembering me like that.’

            Cats don't cry like humans do. But – somehow – I sort of understood why he was weeping.

            So you’ll do something to help, won’t you? I can’t stand the pain much longer.       

‘There, there. You’ll be okay, cat.’

            The man laid me gently in a cardboard box lined with a fluffy towel and placed me in the front seat of the silver van.

            We headed for the vet’s clinic. That’s like the worst place ever for me, so I’d rather not talk about it.

            I ended up staying with the man until my wounds healed. He lived alone in his apartment and everything was neat and tidy. He set out a litter tray for me in the changing room beside the bath, and bowls of food and water in the kitchen.

            Despite appearances, I’m a pretty intelligent, well-mannered cat, and I worked out how to use the toilet right away and never once soiled the floor. Tell me not to sharpen my claws on certain places, and I refrain. The walls and doorframes were forbidden so I used the furniture and rug for claw-sharpening. I mean, he never specifically mentioned that the furniture and the rug were off limits. (Admittedly, he did look a little put out at first, but I’m the kind of cat who can pick up on things, sniff out what’s absolutely forbidden, and what isn’t. The furniture and the rug weren’t absolutely off limits, is what I’m saying.)

            I think it took about two months to get the stitches out and for the bone to heal. During that time, I found out the man’s name. Satoru Miyawaki.

            Satoru kept calling me things like ‘You’, or ‘Cat’ or ‘Mr Cat’ ‒ whatever he felt like at the time. Which is understandable, since I didn't have a name at this point.

            And even if I had had a name, Satoru didn’t understand my language, so I wouldn't have been able to tell him. It’s kind of inconvenient that humans only understand each other. Did you know that animals are much more multilingual?

            Whenever I wanted to go outside, Satoru would frown and try to convince me that I shouldn’t.

            ‘If you go out, you might never come back. Just be patient, little cat. Wait until you’re completely better. You don't want to have stitches in your leg for the rest of your life, do you?’

            By this time, I was able to walk a little, though it still hurt, but seeing how put out Satoru looked, I endured house confinement for those two months, and I figured there were other benefits. It wouldn’t do to be dragging my leg if a rival cat and I got into a scrap.

            So I stayed put until my wound was at long last totally healed.

            Satoru always used to stop me at the front door with a worried look, but now I stood there, meowing to be let out. Thank you for all you’ve done. I will be forever grateful. I wish you lifelong happiness, even if you never leave me another tidbit beneath that silver van.

            Satoru didn't look worried so much as forlorn. The same way he seemed about the furniture and the rug. It’s not totally off limits, but still ... That sort of expression.

         ...

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