So you think your cat can’t talk? Think again with these 5 must-read fiction books featuring cats.
1. Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
“Generations of readers have delighted in the work of the great American humorist Don Marquis. Marquis’s satirical free-verse poems, which first appeared in his New York newspaper columns in 1916, revolve around the escapades of Archy, a philosophical cockroach who was a poet in a previous life, and Mehitabel, a streetwise alley cat who was once Cleopatra. Reincarnated as the lowest creatures on the social scale, they prowl the rowdy streets of New York City in between the world wars, and Archy records their experiences and observations on the boss’s typewriter late at night. First published in 1927, Archy and Mehitabel has become a celebrated part of the twentieth-century American literary canon.”
2. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
“Eliot’s famous collection of nonsense verse about cats-the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. This edition features pen-and-ink drolleries by Edward Gorey throughout.”
3. A Conversation with a Cat: A Novel by Stephen Spotte
“Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, is spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys.”
4. The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
“A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife — the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens….”
5. I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume
“Written over the course of 1904-1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.”
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