To be honest, I don’t quite know what to do with this one. It wasn’t quite what I expected, falling into the slightly opaque, meandering reflection that makes me think Japanese literature may be a cultural bridge too far for me. There’s a deft touch in the prose, but I couldn’t relate to the obsessive attachment the couple developed to their neighbours’ cat. Maybe it has just been too long since I last lived with a cat (Mr Bloke is violently allergic).
Having read reviews praising its understanding of cats, yes, I recognise that Chibi is well observed and charming – but the human element and latter part of the tale didn’t affect me, and I’m left thinking a certain amount of cultural context is lost in translation (above and beyond the translator’s notes).