I Am A Cat

“I Am A Cat” by Soseki Natsume (Japan)

Synopsis

‘I am a cat. As yet I have no name.’ So begins one of the most original and unforgettable works in Japanese literature. Richly allegorical and delightfully readable, “I Am A Cat” is the chronicle of an unloved, unwanted, wandering kitten who spends all his time observing human nature – from the dramas of businessmen and schoolteachers to the foibles of priests and potentates. From this unique perspective, author Soseki Natsume offers a biting commentary on the social upheaval of the Meiji era.

“I Am A Cat” first appeared in ten installments in the literary magazine ‘Hotoguisu (Cuckoo)’, between 1905 and 1906. Soseki had not intended to write more than the short story that makes up the first chapter of this book. After its great critical and popular success, he expanded it into this epic novel, which is universally recognized as a classic of world literature… Read more

Favourite Quote

It is painfully easy to define human beings. They are beings who, for no good reason at all, create their own unnecessary suffering.

My view

At 470 pages, “I Am A Cat” is divided into 3 volumes increasingly protracted in length. I was really looking forward to this book, it being narrated by a cat! The first volume grabbed my attention and I enjoyed the amusing anecdotes about human behaviour. But it was a struggle to finish as it became quite repetitive and there was no plot to keep me hooked.

The Four great Truths from a Cat (enlightenment from Volume I of “I Am a Cat”):
1) Golden opportunity makes all animals venture to do even those things they do not want to do.
2) All animals can tell by instinct what is or is not good for them.
3) In conditions of exceptional danger one can surpass one’s normal level of achievement.
4) All comfort is achieved through hardship.

Big Books Challenge 2014 reading list

There were some books in my to-read pile that I’d been putting off reading for years because they are over 400 pages long. So one of the reading resolutions I set myself for 2014 was to choose six of them to read that year (one every 2 months). And I did it; I cracked their spines and finished them all! The 6 books were:

“I Am A Cat” by Soseki Natsume (Japan) – 470 pages
“Wizard of the Crow” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) – 766 pages
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) – 422 pages
“Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden (Canada) – 432 pages
“No Man’s Land” by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam) – 450 pages
“A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry (India) – 614 pages

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