Nana is a stray cat adopted by, Satoro, a gentle young man who lives alone in Tokyo. Nana reminds him of a beloved cat from his childhood. One day, Satoro packs Nana into his silver van and they set off on a journey to visit his childhood friend, Kosuke. Satoro hopes that his friend will take care of Nana for him. As the title suggests, the novel is a chronicle of Satoro and Nana’s travels around Japan, visiting friends and family, searching for a new home for Nana. The mystery, of course, is why can’t Satoro keep his beloved cat.
Much of the novel is narrated in the first person by Nana the cat. Other sections are narrated from the viewpoint of Satoro’s friends. I’ve never been particularly fond of anthropomorphic stories. Generally, such stories ascribe characteristics to animals that just aren’t true to life. Such is the case here too. However, I don’t think this matters. The story doesn’t set out to be a true account of a cat’s perspective. Nana is a device the author uses to explore the nature of friendship and love, in their many guises, by coming at the relationships side-on. Seen through Nana’s eyes, we have a slightly different perspective to humans.
A bestseller in Japan, ‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ is a gentle meditation on friendship, and life in general. It isn’t a travelogue of Japan, although the section where they travel to Hokkaido has some pretty bits. It’s written in a simple but engaging style and Nana’s voice is often amused and not a little snarky. A delightfully entertaining read.