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Short Stories set in TOKYO (including a calico cat)

14th July 2020

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley, short stories set in Tokyo.

Short Stories set in TOKYO

These short stories cannot be categorised by genre. They are a trawl through the city of Tokyo, a vehicle to show the reader the diverse layers of this vibrant metropolis, through fiction, magical realism, sci-fi and a graphic story at the back. They are cute and curious and the author clearly knows his city very well. It almost feels like a Japanese person has penned them, quirky and observant and just a touch of otherworldly adventures.

The opening story was, for me, the one I favoured most. It tells of a young woman having a tattoo engraved on her back and it is to be a 3-d map of the city of Tokyo. This will, of course take months if not years to complete and towards the end of the project the tattooist inserts a small calico cat, near the monument of Hachiko at Shibuya Station. But that cat won’t stay still and it is almost as though it wants to travel into the next story and the next and so on.

The cat makes an appearance in each story, worming its way in with a homeless man; or appearing in a train carriage, just briefly and then hopping off at the next stop. It is the subject of a set of photographs adorning the walls of Cafe Neko (a cat cafe where people assemble to drink coffee and pet the resident cats). Now you see it, now you don’t.

Relationships flicker and stutter through book, people reappear, fleetingly and then more consistently. There is an Anglo-Japanese couple who struggle with communication and aren’t particularly appealing. Kyoko keeps popping up in her pink and beige outfit….

The stories are set in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, which we now know have been postponed due to the Coronavirus crisis. This is a city in preparation and it is a peek behind the scenes of the neon / traditional sites and just ordinary streets with ordinary people. It is thus a very good book to pick up if you are heading to Tokyo any time soon as you will get a sense of the city and feel for the way things are done.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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