Summary and book reviews of The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel X
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel
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  • Published:
    Oct 2018, 288 pages

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Book Summary

A life-affirming anthem to kindness and self-sacrifice, The Travelling Cat Chronicles shows how the smallest things can provide the greatest joy.

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, 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.

Excerpt
The Travelling Cat Chronicles

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, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The Travelling Cat Chronicles exemplifies the idea that life isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. How do both Satoru and Nana show us that life is what we make of it?
  2. Friendships come and go, as we all know. Yet friendships are everlasting in this book, despite the years that go by without any contact. Do you think this is true in real life? Aided by social media and how fast communication is now—via e-mail, chat programs, and text messages—have you reached out to someone you were close to many years ago but were no longer in touch with? Did this book make you want to reach out to someone?
  3. The idea of being saved is a theme in this book—whether it's Nana literally being saved from ...
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Reviews

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The novel brings to the reader a powerful message about the value of friendship and solitude. It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives (Carol N). This was a great book; so much soul searching and reflection was relayed in these pages. The way the author details Saturo's life was beautiful; I felt so much a part of his journey that I never wanted it to end (Kristen H).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Lynne Truss, The Guardian
Anyone who has ever unashamedly loved an animal will read this book with gratitude, for its understanding of an emotion that ennobles us as human beings, whether we value it or not.

The Irish Times
It's the wisdom and stoicism of the feline narrator that makes this book such an engaging read. Like Alison Jean Lester's recent Yuki Means Happiness, it provides a fascinating insight into Japanese culture and traditions, but ultimately it doesn't matter that it's about a man and a cat. Like Of Mice and Men or The Kite Runner, Arikawa's central concern is friendship and the things we'll do for the people, or animals, that we love.

Financial Times
Continues the Japanese tradition of folkloric tales that celebrate simple values such as self-sacrifice and friendship. It has the warmth, painterly touch, and tenderness of a Studio Ghibli film - and is a delight to read.

Publishers Weekly
Readers will perhaps pick up on the reason that Satoru must find Nana a new home before the cat does, but Arikawa is very subtle with this plotline. This touching novel of a brave cat and his gentle, wise human will resonate with lovers of animal tales, quiet stories of friendship, and travelogues alike.

Booklist
Flipping between Nana's observations and flashbacks into Satoru's past, Arikawa's novel, already a bestseller in Japan, boasts vivid and well-rendered characters in the midst of trying to do what's best for those they love the most.

The Sunday Morning Herald, Australia
This book could easily become twee, but somehow it never quite does, and what we're left with is a man and his cat on a road trip, some stories of the man's life and friends, and a beautiful travelogue.

Reader Reviews

Therese X. (Calera, AL)

Have Cat Will Travel and Find Much Wisdom
A smart, street-wise cat with no name learns that his best "home" is on the hood of a silver van near an apartment complex, warmed by the sun and owned by a human named Saturo Myawaki. The young man calls him "Mr. Cat", bringing him treats and ...   Read More

Carolyn L. (Summerville, SC)

Satoru and Nana
I enjoyed this book very much. It started a little slowly for me, but I was soon drawn in by the relationship between Satoru and his cat Nana, and Nana's perky personality. We see the pair visiting several of his old friends, and we learn how ...   Read More

Carol N. (Indian Springs Village, AL)

The Tao of Traveling Cats
I loved this book from the beginning, but I am probably biased because of my love for cats. They are so intelligent and yes, loving, and I have been blessed to share my life and home with many over the years. The cat in this book, Nana, is similar to...   Read More

Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)

Serenity in a Book. Terrific read!
I would give this read 8 stars if I could --what a sweet read! I generally lean towards mystery/suspense and I was looking forward to a book on the mellow side. This refreshing book totally engaged me and also tickled my cat-lady bones! Arikawa ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Cats in Japanese Culture

A group of cats on Japan's Aoshima IslandThe Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is set in Japan, a country where felines are held in high esteem. Cats first arrived in Japan around 500 CE as stowaways on ships returning from China, where the animals had already been domesticated for centuries. They were quickly adopted in Buddhist temples by the resident monks, who deemed them protectors of their manuscripts (the books were written on parchment, a favorite food of mice). In the 10th century, cats were so popular and sought after, only nobles could afford them. By the end of the 16th century, cats were popular pets across all social classes; however in 1602, the government ordered the release of all house cats in an effort to combat an increase in rats, the proliferation...

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