The Cat and the City

Nick Bradley. Atlantic, $22.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-78649-989-9
British author Nick Bradley’s marvelous debut novel in stories opens in Tokyo, as a young woman with glowing green eyes asks Kentaro, a Japanese tattoo master, to cover her body with a portrait of the city. Over months of painful, painstaking work, Kentaro is alarmed to see the tiny calico cat he inked moving around. A cat appears in each of the stories that follow, which are set in a variety of Tokyo locales and written in genres including manga, science fiction, and horror. Though the tales seem unconnected, they are subtly and intricately linked. The homeless former alcoholic in “Fallen Words” turns out to be the brother of the taxi driver in “Sakura” and the son of the late author Nishi Furuni, whose futurist short story “Copy Cat” appears as the book’s centerpiece. Furuni’s story is translated by Flo Dunthorpe, an American whose fellow staffers at a large PR firm also appear throughout. As shadowy authorities clean up the city for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics (still planned here for 2020), Bradley suggests the reappearing green-eyed woman might be a bakeneko, a cat-human shape-shifter from Japanese folklore. Bradley’s juxtaposed narratives paint an unforgettable portrait of Tokyo and capture the mix of isolation and interconnection that shapes modern urban life. Fans of David Mitchell should enjoy this clever work, which charts its own territory through deep immersion in Japanese culture. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/10/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-78649-988-2
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