This book was written by a westerner who has lived in Japan and whose PhD thesis (I think) was about the role of cats in Japanese literature. My son, Danny, is hopefully moving to Japan in a couple of months, initially to attend an intensive language school (he’s already pretty conversant in Japanese, but not quite fluent yet) and then to live and work. He’s living at home at the moment and immersing himself in all things Japanese for language and cultural acclimation, so we have watched lots of Japanese movies with him (with English subtitles for us!). It was fun reading this book and having ‘oh yes, Danny has told us about this Japanese custom’ or ‘oh yes, we saw that in that film’ moments. I really liked the start of the book where a mysterious woman asks for a tattoo (quite taboo in respectable Japanese society) all over her back of the Tokyo city scape with no people in it. The tattoo artist adds a cat which seems to have moved around her back every time she comes back for a new tattooing session. The cat also meanders through the book’s connected stories of several Japanese characters (the cast is so large that I often found it confusing). I liked the book, it was well written and interesting, but I was a little disappointed that the books opening hints of magical realism weren’t really followed through the whole book, but then I’m a sucker for magical realism!