Kelly Rivera

Writer, The Paper

Published on February 28, 2022

When it comes to books, I tend to gravitate towards classics. However, I’ve recently begun exploring new genres. “If Cats Disappeared from the World: A Novel” by Genki Kawamura was recommended to me by a friend who became overwhelmed when attempting to describe this book, with all the words tripping over each other within their head. I couldn’t stop myself and began reading the book immediately upon inspecting the title. This book took me longer than I would like to admit. While a quick read, it undoubtedly packs various concepts that must marinate within the mind of the reader.

Through this book, we see a moving adaptation embedded within the human consciousness of the unnamed protagonist. The novel is centered around a postman who wakes up one day to find his days numbered; rightfully frightened, he makes a deal with the devil quite literally. As Kawamura puts it, “when death stares you in the face, you find yourself willing to accept a helping hand from anyone, even the devil.” 

In this book, the devil, Aloha, takes the form of his doppelganger, who appears to have quite an exquisite taste of fashion, opting for fun modern Hawaiian print shirts. While the devil isn’t the typical depiction of what we have come to know as the devil, Kawamura places a sense of morality within him as to remove any plain fault from his shoulders and explore the development of the protagonist. Cabbage, the postman’s cat, with a British accent, is an integral part of the book as he partially molds the development of the character, as told in his letters.

Readers will share the postman’s will to live while clashing and conflicting with the thought of removing simple yet precious things from the hands of others, in the span of seven days. 

The development of this character is portrayed as he ends up reflecting and grasps that there’s a reason why everything exists in the world. And there’s no reason good enough for making them disappear. He begins to find life’s little wonders, and place a grander value on such small things, often overlooked and taken for granted. 

This book dwells on a melancholic feeling we tend to recognize every once in a while when we realize the precious things we’ve lost.

This novel is quite quirky and undeniably poignant. If you happen to read this book in public, especially on the train, make sure you’ve brought a pack or two of tissues; the tears will be a never-ending integration of the ritual within this novel. It’s important to note the rhythmic humor sewn together between pages, and its adequate flow is a grand part of the novel, ranging from Cabbage’s British accent, to the quirks of Aloha.

At the end of the book, Kawamura proceeds to leave us somehow hung-up as to what happens, leaving it up for a hopeful interpretation. This book is idiosyncratic and witty, yet sadly an immeasurably minute novel that packs more than can be grasped in sight.