Excerpt from If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura
This is an excerpt from the book If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland.
If cats disappeared from the world, how would the world be different? What wold be gained and what would be lost in a world without cats?
I remembered what my mother said a long time ago:
“Cats and humans have been partners for over ten thousand years. And what you realize when you’ve lived with a cat for a long time is that we may think we own them, but that’s not the way it is. They simply allow us the pleasure of their company.”
Cabbage was curled up and asleep. I lay down beside him and gazed at his face. Such a peaceful face. Never in his wildest dreams wold he ever imagine a world where he had disappeared. I wouldn’t be surprised if he woke up at this very moment, speaking like a gentleman and demanding to be fed. But as I stared at his sleeping face I could also imagine him saying like a faithful friend, “I would gladly disappear for you, sir.”
On the one hand, they say that only humans have a concept of death. Cats don’t see it coming. It doesn’t cause them fear and anxiety like it does humans. And then humans end up keeping cats as pets, despite our angst over mortality, even though we know that the cat will die long before we do, causing the owner untold grief.
But then again, human beings can never grieve their own death. Death is always something that happens to others around them. When you boil it down, the death of a cat isn’t so different from the death of a human. When I thought about it this way I finally understood why it is that we humans keep cats as pets. there’s a limit to how well we know ourselves. We don’t know what we look like to others, and we can’t know our own future, and we can’t know what our own death will be like. And that’s why we need cats. It’s just like my mother said. Cats don’t need us. It’s human beings who need cats.
As these thoughts were going round and round in my brain I suddenly felt a sharp pain in the right side of my head.
Feeling powerless I curled up in bed, trembling, just like Lettuce when he was dying. I felt so small and helpless in this body of mine, this body no dominated by death. I felt a heavy weight pressing down on my chest.
The pain in my head was getting worse. I went into the kitchen and took two painkillers, washed them down with water, and then went back to bed. I fell into a deep sleep.
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If Cats Disappeared From the World – Summary
Here is the book summary from Goodreads:
Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .
Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.
Copyright © 2018 by Genki Kawamura.
Translated by: Eric Selland
More details can be found here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.