Book Reviews

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Published: 2nd November 2017
It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side.  Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van.  About the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take.  It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can…

Oh this book. It broke me.  I am a cat lover - if you know me you’ll already know this! I spotted this book on the Waterstones website and as it had a high rating and was about cats it went on my request list at the library. Luckily, I didn’t read any of the reviews... I went into the story blind and I’m so glad I did.

This review won’t include any spoilers, I promise!

I’m not one to cry when reading books but this story managed to leave me bleary eyed.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is the story of Nana and his owner Satoru. Nana is a streetcat who befriends Satoru as he owns the silver van that is Nana’s favoured bed. When Nana is injured he instinctively goes to hide in his safe spot underneath the silver van and it’s at this point Satoru takes him in to recover.  Nana bears a striking resemblance to Hachi, a cat owned by Satoru and his childhood best friend Kosuke and this is where The Travelling Cat Chronicles begins.

Broken into 6 chapters the book follows Satoru and Nana as they travel across Japan in the silver van visiting friends from Satoru’s past. Satoru has to find someone to adopt Nana due to unforeseen circumstances, circumstances which don’t become clear until much later in the story.

The book is partly told from Nana’s point of view, his thoughts on what’s going on and one-sided conversations he has with Satoru. Nana has quite the sense of humour and this wasn’t something I was expecting from the book but it’s so lovely (and how I’d like to think my cats speak about me).

It took until chapter 4 for me to realise this book was going to hurt, by this point I was invested and couldn’t have stopped reading even if I wanted to.  I adored this story... even though it’s been translated from Japanese, it’s lost none of its charm or meaning.

A story of friendship and the loyalty of one cat to his master, it’s a book I’ll be buying to keep and also recommending to anyone who’ll listen!

A fabulously feline 5 stars.


Hiro Arikawa lives in Tokyo.  A bestseller in Japan, The Travelling Cat Chronicles has become an unexpected international hit, and is due to be made into a live-action Japanese film.

Philip Gabriel is a highly experienced translator from Japanese, and best known for his translation work with Haruki Marakami.

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