The protagonist and narrator’s days are numbered, and many profound and affecting questions come to him, as he considers his life at large. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was not suspecting his doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live, particularly considering his youthful age of thirty. However, the Devil appears in the guise of Aloha, a version of himself wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He comes bearing an offer that at first seems too good to refuse: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life, which spurs on a truly bizarre week.
It first begins with phones, he opts to make all phones disappear for an extra day alive, which has obvious consequences. Contact becomes difficult and his lonely feelings are exacerbated. And then he reluctantly agrees to allow movies to disappear, one of his true passions, particularly as his ex-girlfriend lives in a film theatre. He, however, reasons that if he is dying anyway, then one of his reasons for living is not really required.
But then comes those questions about the richness of life and when it is no longer worth living, once you wish away all the things you hold dear. In dealing with the Devil the narrator then has to consider whether he will allow himself to leave life or dispense of his only company, his cat, to survive another day. If Cats Disappeared from the World is at it’s heart a story of loss and redemption, of that path to discovery of what really matters in the modern world, and coming to terms with dying.
For what is mostly a profound and interesting exploration of life and death, If Cats Disappeared From The World lacks the emotion in writing that would make it utterly compelling. Now, whether that comes from a clunky translation or whether it was like this in the Japanese text, I could not say, but despite it’s richness this could be so much more, but unfortunately it is a little flat at points. That all said, it’s still an interesting read worthy of your time.
If Cats Disappeared From The World is available now, published by Picador.