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If Cats Disappeared from the World

by Genki Kawamura

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7354330,727 (3.51)28
The international phenomenon that has sold over a million copies in Japan, If Cats Disappeared from the World is a funny, heartwarming, and profound meditation on the meaning of life. The postman's days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage to keep him company, he was unprepared for the doctor's diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can tackle his bucket list, the Devil appears to make him an offer: In exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, our narrator will get one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week...With each object that disappears the postman reflects on the life he's lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he's loved and lost. Genki Kawamura's timeless tale is a moving story of loss and reconciliation, of one man's journey to discover what really matters most in life.… (more)
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» See also 28 mentions

English (40)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
It's a novel, not anything... with a goal, with fun, or humor. Too literati. ( )
  cwebb | Mar 11, 2024 |
I was intrigued by the premise of this book, which offers so many different ways things could play out. I was a little disappointed that the narrator wasn't able to choose what would disappear, since I found myself wondering what I would choose (mosquitoes? lead-based paint? nuclear weapons?), and I thought it would be fascinating to see if the narrator ended up regretting what he'd assumed would be a good choice. I was hoping to see some big, unexpected, butterfly-effect-like consequences for each thing removed, but the book was short on that as well. Not to mention the lack of deep exploration of moral philosophy that easily could have come into play here.

Overall, it seems like the author didn't do a lot of research or employ a rigorous thought process, and the reader doesn't seem to be encouraged to think about these things very much either. This was something I personally struggled with, as the concept of "think about it a little, but don't overthink" doesn't really work for me. But it did make the book a far lighter read than I'd expected.

Speaking of light, the tone also manages to stay light-hearted much of the time, even including a few jokes. The main character is usually in a magical state of not suffering at all, and, while there are people who will miss him, he's relatively unattached and doesn't have anyone depending on him except for a cat. It gets a little sad at the end, but how much you feel it will depend on how well you personally handle the knowledge that every living thing eventually dies.

I think this book will appeal to those who enjoy books like The Midnight Library that use a bit of magic to allow the main character to delay death while reflecting back on their life. It's a quick and easy read (I finished it in a day) and might be a good choice for reading on a plane or train or as an audiobook during a long commute. It probably won't require your intensive focus, but it'll keep you entertained for a while with some things to lightly ponder.
  dste | Jan 20, 2024 |
This is an interesting surmise, I'm just not sure it worked as the central character didn't seem to have enough depth.
One day the young man who tells this story finds out that he has an incurable brain tumour and has only a limited time to live. At which point he starts writing a bucket list and wishes he has longer. At which point the devil appears. Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, like you do. And he is offered a bargin, remove one thing from the world and gain an extra day of life.
And so he vanishes phones, movies and clocks. He gets the chance to have one more experience with each item before it vanishes, so one last phone call, one last movie etc. The surmise is interesting, what would you get rid off for one more day on the earth. But the execution seems rather poor. The central character meets up with an ex girlfriend who adores movies, and when he vanishes then, he barely gives a moments thought to what it would mean to her life. Maybe that's why they are ex... The 4th offering is cats and at this point he declines the offer. Along the way he revisits parts of his life, reviews his relationship with his mother and the broken one with his father. He is somewhere in his 30s, we find, but at times he is very childish and selfish, not considering anyone else apart from his mother and the cat.
Good idea, but the central character and the execution let it down. ( )
  Helenliz | Nov 12, 2023 |
There are moments in this book that have made me think much about those elements of my life that I easily take for granted---there are some good lines in here (disclaimer: I read the original Japanese), and the premise is fantastic. But other moments feel rather dramatic and cliche. The commentary following the end of the story proper doesn't help---its extravagant praise reads more like an advertisement than much else. ( )
  mirryi | Aug 15, 2023 |
I liked the concept of what you would be prepared to give up if you could live one more day. Like the narrator, I couldn't give up something so close to me, like a beloved animal. ( )
  Elise3105 | Aug 13, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kawamura, Genkiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Selland, EricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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If cats disappeared from the world, how would the world change? And how would my life change?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The international phenomenon that has sold over a million copies in Japan, If Cats Disappeared from the World is a funny, heartwarming, and profound meditation on the meaning of life. The postman's days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage to keep him company, he was unprepared for the doctor's diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can tackle his bucket list, the Devil appears to make him an offer: In exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, our narrator will get one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week...With each object that disappears the postman reflects on the life he's lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he's loved and lost. Genki Kawamura's timeless tale is a moving story of loss and reconciliation, of one man's journey to discover what really matters most in life.

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