Member Reviews

I was intrigued by the title, being a cat lover and found myself completely blown away by the entire book. The author has created a masterpiece that’s both thought provoking and inspiring. I was completely spellbound the entire time I was reading and the questions it poses and the style of writing really add to the depth of the character.
I loved the complexity and inner conflict, the moral and emotional dilemmas that are such a profound part of the story.
If you are looking for something a little different, this is a brilliant book.

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I thought this book was a really unique idea but poorly executed. In order to gain more time on earth, the protagonist exchanges certain things for longer on earth. Giving up his mobile phone in exchange for another day and then giving up cats. I didn't find the writing style particularly engaging and I thought the writing was overly simplified.

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‘In order to gain something you have to lose something’ - that, in a nutshell, is pretty much the moral of this charming, offbeat little novel that has sold massively in Kawamura’s native Japan and is now getting its English-translation release. How you enjoy the book depends I think on your expectations: this is more of a fable than a novel, more about sentiment than in-depth characterisation and reality. And if you have lost close family members or love cats – or both, even – then this will no doubt leave you a blubbering wreck!

The language is simple – whether that’s down to the translation I can’t say (I don’t know Japanese to be able to read it in the original) – but in some ways that suits the development of the story. The Devil visits a young 30-year old man, diagnosed with a brain tumour and told he has only a short time to live. The Faustian pact means that he is given the chance to extend his life in return for allowing one thing to vanish from the face of the earth for every day longer he gets to live, and it becomes a diverting meditation on what it is we value about our modern lives: chocolate, telephones, films, our obsession with time…. There are meditations on family and relationships, and about what it is exactly that makes us who we are. And yes, it’s about cats – so if you are a cat lover then you will ‘get’ the book.

I can understand why this book was so popular when it was released: it’s about taking time to look at who you are, about making peace with family and friends, about not wasting your life away. And it’s about the place of humans in the wider scheme of things, about how we create the illusion of control when ‘rules’ are really just artifice (there we go, back to cats again!). Quirky, as other reviewers have put it, and with a heart-warming message, this isn’t high literature maybe, but it does convey an important message in its themes. 4 stars. Thoroughly recommended.

(With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for an ARC of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.)

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I thought this was a lovely short story with a thought provoking concept. The narrator is given a terminal diagnosis so starts to reflect on his life. He then gets an unexpected visitor, the Devil. The devil gives him a choice he can live another day if he chooses something to disappear from the world. So begins an interesting week as the narrator comes to terms with his life and it’s ending.
I liked the concept and how the story unfolded. Similar to Mitch Albom books and I would read this author again.
Thanks to Pan MacMillan and NetGalley for an ARC.

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An enjoyable read with an important message about the value we give to life, what we do with our lives, and what we’d be ready to sacrifice to extend them. Confronted to the prospect of dying very soon, in the next few months if not the next few days, the narrator is offered a bargain by the Devil itself, and a tempting one at that: for each thing he erases from the world, he gets to live one more day. Which quickly raises a lot of questions and conundrums, because if it’s worth earning more life time, it has to be a sacrifice… but if we sacrifice too much, is it worth keeping on living?

The chapter with the talking cat was well done, too: first because of the cat’s voice, second because he was very… feline (those bipeds never understand anything to cats, do they?), and third due to his selective memory, something that was sad, but also a reminder that we don’t know how animals think, and what we take for granted may not be what is important to them.

I did find the story too predictable, though, in that the message was obvious from the beginning, and completely expected considering the type of stories it usually goes with. There’s no real twist, nothing I didn’t see coming, and no ‘revelation’ either, if this makes sense—other novels on a similar theme already did it, and this one doesn’t go far enough with the associated tropes to rise above them all. (I also think that the Devil imposing choices about what to make disappear removed the possibility of things going awry because of the narrator: ‘he made me do it, so it’s not my fault’. I prefer when my protagonists make their own mistakes, and then atone for / learn from them.)

3.5 stars.

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If Cats Disappeared From the world, tackles one of the final taboos, death and does so with honesty and humour. The devil arrives at the narrators door and tells him he will die tomorrow, but he can have an extra day of life for each item he omits from the world. This book was short yet sweet, even though the subject is morbid, there is laughter to be found in this story and it makes you really think about how you would live your last days and whether given the choice, you would make a deal with the devil.

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I'm not particularly a big lover of cats but I did love this book. If you are a cat owner you will really identify with the book. My reason for reading it was that it is by a Japanese author. From the description you might imagine this to be a sombre book dealing as it does with someone who has been told they are going to die very soon. It's actually far from that and in places it is very amusing, especially when a cat begins to speak and sounds like someone from Downton Abbey!

As the narrator strikes his deal with the devil who incidentally is wearing an Hawaiian shirt - things begin to disappear. What is life like when they are gone? There are so many life messages in this beautifully written book. It is really a novella and one I will probably read again just to let the lovely writing flow through my mind. Such a soothing book to read too.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this title. It is out on 20 September 2018.

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As a cat lover I had to read a book with such an intriguing title and I wasn't disappointed. A very lovely, little story.
Briefly the narrator is told he has only months to live.;he is a loner and shares his life with his cat, named Cabbage.
He is visited by the Devil who tells him he can have one day of his life saved every time he tells the Devil he wants one thing in the world to disappear.............and,of course, the Devil will make that thing disappear.
What can he/we do without? What a dilemma faces our narrator........mobile phones? films? cats?

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This is a beautifully written short story. It is thought provoking and heartbreaking in places. It looks at life and the inevitability of death. It looks at family and memories and what matters to us in life. This story was a pleasure to read and I would definitely recommend it and will definitely be reading it again.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.

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This hasa strong flavour of translated Japanese, which you will either like or not, depending whether you find it 'quirky' or 'irritating'. I veer towards the second, because I have something of a bias agaianst works in translation - I always feel I can't appreciate the writing of it isn't the original language. Sadly, I can't read Japanese! I liked the message of the novel and it's really short so not a huge time committment. It's just an odd stylistic feeling that those unfamiliar with Japanese culture might find jarring. The emotional heart is there though.

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For a quirky little novelette, this actually brought home and few home truths and was quite insightful.
I expected it to be a funny homage to cats, but no, it was all about what "things" we need, what "things" make us happy, how relationships are built & fall and the endless question what is this life actually worth.

It has a Japanese sense of humour running through it and I really liked that. It's self-deprecating in a very relatable and English way.

My favourite sentence is "Like love, life is beautiful because it has to end".

Beautiful and thoughtful prose, I feel this would be a perfect book to read on a drunk, hazy summers day; when you can just lay & really drink in each word.

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What would you sacrifice in exchange for an extra day of life?

I wasn’t entirely sure whether to take this book at face value as Faustian pact magical realism, or whether the devil character and successive disappearances of various items from the world were meant to be manifestations of the brain tumour our protagonist is about to die of.

Either way, he comes across as a disappointingly superficial, selfish and shallow character: the devil character appears to be his alter-ego – looking exactly like him, but wearing colourful clothes instead of the narrator’s black and white; other characters do not seem to be of sufficient importance to him to be named – not even his ex-girlfriend or his best friend from school (who is only known by his nickname, and that just seems to be a plot device); even his last ‘favourite film’ is the story of his own life. And our protagonist is selfish enough to be willing to sacrifice the things that mean the most to the people who should be closest to him; phones, clocks and movies disappear worldwide, he is not merely making a personal sacrifice in exchange for an extra day of life. The impression of him as an immature, superficial man is then only reinforced by the sparse writing style.

Naturally enough, when the devil says he will remove something from the world for each extra day, our protagonist doesn’t get to choose which items to sacrifice – otherwise it would be a ridiculously long book as he lives a long and happy life working his way through slugs, brussels sprouts and hundreds of other things that no-one would greatly miss! The devil also appears to be extraordinarily lenient: in this tale of make-something-disappear-from-the-world-for-an-extra-day-of-life, our narrator gets a week in exchange for only three items sacrificed.

I was hoping for more of a ‘Christmas Carol’-style story arc and some gradual character development, but unfortunately I found the main character unsympathetic and his eleventh-hour change of heart when the devil demands cats rather unconvincing.

A story with great promise – and a million seller in Japan – but sadly didn’t hit the mark for me.

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I was intrigued with the concept of this novel especially as it involved a talking cat. I was initially caught up in the concept of one day one disappearance, especially of phones, the novel then seemed to flounder and sadly I lost interest. .

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Oh my god what a beautiful book, totally unique and thought provoking, I feel honoured to have been lucky enough to read it, I laughed and I cried and I’ll remember this book for a very long time. What an absolute peach of a book and a must read for everyone...just beautiful; a work of art 5stars all the way

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I was reluctant to dive into this, and I was right to hesitate although it won me over a bit with its nice writing: detailed and genuine. It's simply too sentimental :saintly mother of our narrator died young, she was magical person, and living happily enough with his now estranged wifefather - magnanimous and empathetic but bruising him when he was young little - and the opinion of a cat, Cabbage, pull him back from depression in his rather monotone life. This didn't work for me much but I gather it's huge Japanese best seller.??

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This is an intriguing book and I was hooked from the first page.
After having a cold that wouldn't clear up, a visit to the Doctor reveals that he has a brain tumour and only days to live. His Mother died of a brain tumour and now that is his fate.
Enter the Devil, dis guised as a surfer in a Hawaiian shirt.
A bargain can be made in, that if he can give something up completely, he will get an extra day of life.
Most people would go for something like this, so thus begins the trade off.
Alongside this, he gets to reviewing his life and those of the significant people who were in his life.
He meets up with an old girlfriend, thinks a lot about his mother and begins to think about the estrangement from his Father. In essence, they both had their own way of grieving when his Mother died and there was no real communication going on.
He has a Cat and it used to belong to his Mother. He is very contented with the Cat until the Devil asks him to give up cats.
At that point, he refuses and actually comes to realise that the cat was important to his Father and that perhaps his way of grieving was different and not wrong.
In the event of his demise, he decides that the Cat will go into the care of his Father.
I loved this book. It is a gradual adjustment in outlook and well written.

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What a wonderful quirky read, what would you give to have one more day, what would you do with that time, would you sacrifice everything, loved it

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"If Cats Disappeared from the World" has sold millions of copies in Kawamura's native Japan, and I can see why. It's a charming story of a dying man who becomes embroiled in a wager between God and the Devil - what would the man sacrifice from this world for extra days of life? The Devil chooses cleverly - phones, movies, clocks - nostalgic things which urges the man to make amends or find closure for incidents in his past. A wonderful, magical, short story, readable in one session.

Book kindly supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

See review on Goodreads.

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I received a free copy in exchange for a review.

This translation is clunky. It's like America in the 50s. It's also named incorrectly, it wasn't about cats disappearing, but a weird (maybe the translation) tale of someone who is visited by the devil (whose voice isn't different than the narrator, even though they are suppose to be like each other, there was basically no depth to the characters) and has to give up something every day for 6 days, but can't give up cats. So he dies.

There isn't much there. I think the people who liked it, it must have hit chords in people and there was a moment where I related. I mean, everyone loves cats. But on the whole, there wasn't a lot of substance. It could have been more surreal. My biggest disappointment was when the character was having his epiphany about his little time left, he cleaned his flat? And organised his funeral? I don't think that shows a good use of his time. I mean, why didn't he go out and do something exciting, instead of just preparing for his death.

I must say, I did enjoy the voice of the car, there needed to be more of that and less of everything else...

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Thought for sure this was going to be a tale of a villain. Only someone who is truly nefarious and diabolical would make a pact with the Devil to wish away cats for one extra day of living. Cats are a gift that just keep on giving. Fluffy balls of cuddles, purrs and claws. Who would want to live in a world without cats! Without cats, we wouldn't have the internet!

Turns out, not a villain.

The story follows the interactions and inner monologue of a character reviewing his memorable moments in life. It is funny and sad, beautiful and poignant, and made oh so much better by including cats!

Recommended reading: for anyone who likes cats (obviously) and faustian bargains.

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