If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

Wednesday, August 18, 2021


I remember I watched the live film adaptation of this novel from years back, so I was drawn to this title when I saw it one time in the bookstore. 

I watched the film because I'm fond of cats. I love seeing them whenever I go out for walks in my neighborhood, and it brings me pure joy whenever I come across them just sunbathing out on the street or climbing up walls.. and just them doing cat things. 

The story grows bigger than cats however, as it touches on aspects of life and death. We get to know more about our protagonist as he shares that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer and has only six months to live. When he comes home from the hospital, he is visited by the devil, who looks exactly like him, but wears a colorful Hawaiian polo shirt (later on, he is named "Aloha"). Aloha informs him that he will die tomorrow, but he decided to make a pact with the protagonist, in which he could prolong his life for an extra day if he could agree to have one thing disappear forever from the world. 

And so the days go by, and Aloha chooses one thing that he would remove from the world. Our protagonist doesn't get to choose; he can only think about allowing the thing to keep on existing, or to prolong his life. Of course he would choose to prolong his life, in exchange for making things disappear. Yet every time he made his choice, he would reflect on each item's importance. 

Caught up in all of this is Cabbage the cat, whom the protagonist lives with and whom he loved dearly. Aloha somehow knew which items he would remove from the earth; most of which were things that our protagonist loved. But when it came down to choosing between himself and Cabbage, that's when the decision became difficult. 

Reading through this novel was both a light and heavy experience. I would say it was light, because of the humorous and playful tone the author used to describe the protagonist's days. It was sort of like reading a dairy, though it was eloquently told. Heavy, because it's not always easy to talk about death. Yet Kawamura was able to convey it in such a relatable everyday manner. Sometimes you wouldn't think much about something or someone you always have near you, yet when it is taken away, its absence is very much felt. 

While reading through the protagonist's flashbacks, one would be able to feel a mix of nostalgia, loss, and acceptance. There was always something that went wrong, yet the flashback also brought pleasant memories. For our main character, it was about the long hours he spent on the phone with his ex-girlfriend, the many films he watched in his favorite theater house, and how the ocean looked in the pale morning light when he went on a beach trip with his parents. It was about looking after Cabbage and borrowing strength from him. 

The novel does not get too philosophical, as it relates more personally with our protagonist's life experiences, which I enjoyed reading about. There was nothing particularly spectacular or special with each moment he recalled, just a collection of small moments that he later on realized meant the world for him, which made it harder for him to let go. 

I took my time in reading this book, although I'm confident I would be able to finish it in one sitting. It's a quick read, but I wanted to reflect as well. It's definitely a novel I would read again some time in the future, and I'd remember it fondly as one of my notable quarantine reads.


"They say in the end you become aware of who the most important people are in your life and that you finally understand the value of lots of other important, irreplaceable things and how wonderful life truly is. You traveled around the world you live in and saw it with fresh eyes. You discovered that despite the boredom and the everyday routines of life that there is a real beauty in it."

- Genki Kawamura, If Cats Disappeared From The World


I'd say that much like the novel Before The Coffee Gets Cold, this novel was certainly thought-provoking and allows you to take a step back and evaluate how you've been spending time while on this earth. 

I would give If Cats Disappeared From The World a 4! 

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If you could have one thing disappear from the world, what would it be? 

I'd say cockroaches. Haha! Yet at the same time, it makes me think. God created the world as it is, and it would go against His design if we were to remove things from this earth He has created. Everything has a reason and design in this world no matter how imperfect it may seem for us. 

Hope you're having a good day, dear reader! : - ) Write to you again soon.



5 comments

  1. oh my god. I've been avoiding the movie because I don't think I'm ready for the emotions yet, even though it stars my favourite actor and actress (sobs) I don't know when I'll watch the movie, but someday... someday I will. right now, I don't know if I'm ready to face that melancholy. (sato takeru and miyazaki aoi can wait for me, yes they can)

    as for the one thing i want to disappear: YES TO ROACHES! they're useless and I hate them. I want to set them on fire. I can still kill the small ones by hitting them with, like... sandals (the brute force Asian way is so much more effective than using bug spray, let me tell ya) but the medium to big sized ones? I just– nope. I'll scream and set the house on fire, probably.



    Elise / www.intosolarium.com

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    1. I watched the film before, but that was years back so I don't remember much of the details anymore. I might re-watch it again though.. but I just looked at the trailer and I do remember it being a v sad film. Maybe just like you, I will watch it when I'm prepared

      Haha, roaches indeed. It could make even the bravest person scream in fright :))

      Hope you're having a good weekend, Elise!

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  2. A friend recommended me this book because she also adores cats, I'm much more of a dog person. However, after reading your book review I'm very intrigued and want to pick up this novel right away. It sounds very interesting and not all about cats as I thought it would be. haha

    If I could choose one thing to disappear, it would definitely be bugs! I absolutely hate bugs and just wished they disappeared forever! ♥

    www.mooeyandfriends.com

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    1. Yes, I'm excited for you to read this book :) I'd love to hear your thoughts after, too. I'm a cat person, and I quite enjoy books that are thought-provoking, so this hit the spot.

      Haha I get you with the bugs. I usually just leave them alone but I understand the weird feeling if they were to crawl on my skin!!

      Thank you for your time with me on here, Michelle :)

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  3. This looks like something I might love. I haven't heard about its movie and this is also the first time I heard about this book. I'm curious ... hmmm

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