Review: If Cats Disappeared From The World (book)

A nothing-special, 30-something postman diagnosed with terminal illness launches into writing his bucket list, but the Devil (in a Hawaiian shirt no less) appears to him with a better deal: for every object he allows the Devil to take from the world, the Devil will extend his life by a day.

Naturally, the postman takes on the deal, as the first object the Devil chooses is mobile phones. Is he willing to die over mobile phones? Of course not. So he gets the extra day, which he then spends with an ex-girlfriend who adores movies. Come night time when he has to decide whether to live tomorrow, the Devil reveals the next object on the list: movies.

And so this becomes the postman’s nightly conundrum: having to make a choice, daily, to either extend his time or take away one thing from everyone else. When your time on Earth is ending and you get a chance for an extra day, how much are you willing to sacrifice? But most importantly, where do you draw the line? In between these decisions, readers become privy to his past and present relationships, his introspection as he goes through the next day knowing a certain object is gone forever, and his reflection on the real value of things and the worth of his own life.

Finally, the Devil decides to make cats disappear next. And it’s no coincidence that the postman happens to own a cat, a black feline named Cabbage.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, although I’m sure you already guessed the choice the postman made.

“…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.”

Genki Kawamura

All in all, If Cats Disappeared from the World is a poignant story that made me cry for the pet I do not even have. It is one of those books that gives more than it takes, with life lessons that does not require you to be a cat person to appreciate. I think that’s what stories about facing one’s mortality does: it puts things in perspective.

And every now and then, maybe that’s exactly the perspective we need, framed by the fact that we are all one day going to face death.

Thanks to my friend, Third, for letting me borrow this book. ^_^

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