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A Cat, a Man, and Two Women

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“Considering all I’ve sacrificed, is it too much to ask for one little cat in return?” Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s retur “Considering all I’ve sacrificed, is it too much to ask for one little cat in return?” Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s return, Shozo’s reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he’ll go to hold onto the one he loves most. A small masterpiece, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women is a novel about loneliness, love, and companionship of the most unexpected kind. In this story of Japanese society and manners, Tanizaki gives us a perfectly-formed oddball comedy, and a love triangle in which the only real rival is feline. ‘A tour de force – catnip.’ – New York Times ‘One of the finest pieces of literature concerning cats ever written.’ – Choice ‘Tanizaki is a very brilliant novelist.’ – Haruki Murakami ‘A really great writer . . . Tanizaki has got this warm, ticklishness to his strangeness.’ – David Mitchell ‘The outstanding Japanese novelist of the century.’ – Edmund White, New York Times Book Review ‘Even his lighter-hearted fictions . . . make us hold our breath, and the endings don’t let us quite exhale.’ – John Updike


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“Considering all I’ve sacrificed, is it too much to ask for one little cat in return?” Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s retur “Considering all I’ve sacrificed, is it too much to ask for one little cat in return?” Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s return, Shozo’s reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he’ll go to hold onto the one he loves most. A small masterpiece, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women is a novel about loneliness, love, and companionship of the most unexpected kind. In this story of Japanese society and manners, Tanizaki gives us a perfectly-formed oddball comedy, and a love triangle in which the only real rival is feline. ‘A tour de force – catnip.’ – New York Times ‘One of the finest pieces of literature concerning cats ever written.’ – Choice ‘Tanizaki is a very brilliant novelist.’ – Haruki Murakami ‘A really great writer . . . Tanizaki has got this warm, ticklishness to his strangeness.’ – David Mitchell ‘The outstanding Japanese novelist of the century.’ – Edmund White, New York Times Book Review ‘Even his lighter-hearted fictions . . . make us hold our breath, and the endings don’t let us quite exhale.’ – John Updike

30 review for A Cat, a Man, and Two Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    This story serves as a perfect example of how people can mistreat each other on a different levels, be it manipulation, adultery or plain ignoring, and be a complete assholes to another human being, but at the same time they can show their soft side and gentle affection to their felines. I'm sure that many years of relationships with cats and observing them closely (and their humans too, of course) helped Tanizaki to create this little masterpiece. Just read the description of Lily he put in thi This story serves as a perfect example of how people can mistreat each other on a different levels, be it manipulation, adultery or plain ignoring, and be a complete assholes to another human being, but at the same time they can show their soft side and gentle affection to their felines. I'm sure that many years of relationships with cats and observing them closely (and their humans too, of course) helped Tanizaki to create this little masterpiece. Just read the description of Lily he put in this story! He was cool before the internet cats were even a thing... A must-read for every cat lover! Like it or not, you'll recognize yourself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nat K

    ” The odds were, in fact, that he really did feel closer to Lily than to either of his wives.” The book begins with a heartfelt letter. From one woman to another. From the previous wife of one man to his current spouse. ”...There’s just one thing I want from you. And of course by that that I don’t mean I want you to return him to me. No, it’s something much, much more trivial than that. It’s Lily I want. From what Mr Tsukamoto says, he wouldn’t mind giving her to me, but you keep saying no. Oh, Fu ” The odds were, in fact, that he really did feel closer to Lily than to either of his wives.” The book begins with a heartfelt letter. From one woman to another. From the previous wife of one man to his current spouse. ”...There’s just one thing I want from you. And of course by that that I don’t mean I want you to return him to me. No, it’s something much, much more trivial than that. It’s Lily I want. From what Mr Tsukamoto says, he wouldn’t mind giving her to me, but you keep saying no. Oh, Fukoko, could that be true? Are you actually interfering with the granting of my one and only wish? Please consider, Fukuoka. I gave you the man who meant more to me than life itself! And not only that - I have you everything from that happy household we’d built together as a couple. I didn’t take so much as a broken teacup away with me. I didn’t even get back most of the things I brought with me when I married him! Of course it may be better not to have things around that would bring back memories of the past, but don’t you think you could at least let me have Lily? I won’t make any other unreasonable demands. I’ve put up with everything - I’ve been beaten up, knocked down and trampled on. Considering all I’ve sacrificed, is it too much to ask for one little cat in return? To you it’s just a worthless little animal, but what a consolation it would be to me! ...I don’t want to seem like a cry baby, but without Lily I’m so lonely I can hardly stand it...Why, there’s nobody in this whole world who’ll have anything to do with me now, except for that cat…." How can it be that a little cat can evoke so much emotion from three adults? The two wives vying for their husband’s attention, which he prefers to lavish on Lily, as she asks for no more of him than to eat all the mackerel which he buys fresh from the seamongers each day, and to have a warm side to sleep next to at night. Our cast of characters: a man (Shozo), two women (Shinako, the ex-wife and Fukoko, the current wife) and, a cat (Lily). Throw into the mix Mrs. Ishi, the mother in law (Shozo’s mother), and you have a gently, lilting bittersweet story about the pain of life. About missing something you love. And all of the petty jealousies in between. ”Your cat means more to you than I do!” In fact, Shozo does appear to enjoy the company (and perhaps even love!) Lily more than either of his wives and mother put together. He’s described as being either “spineless” or “easy going”, depending on which of his wives or work colleagues you ask. Lily is a tortoiseshell. She is ”...of Western breed, with soft, silky fur; a pretty female, unusually elegant in form of features.” But both Shinako and Fukuoka wear themselves out with their jealousy at how much Shozo adores Lily. Gently feeding her mackerel after mackerel, which has been lovingly marinated in a soy and vinegar sauce. Such a wonderful love triangle! With Lily sitting firmly at the top. With the irony being that she also showed more devotion, love and understanding than the people in her life. I’m continually astonished by how Japanese writers seem to have this otherworldliness with their stories. Whether the writers be modern day and contemporary like Murakami and Murata or more traditional such as Tanizaki (this is the first of his books that’s I’ve read). There is a beauty in the way in which they use words. In how they convey feelings. A gamut of emotions with such power, yet the touch is but the flutter of a leaf falling to the ground. Apparently this book was written way back in 1937, which astonished me. As the story is just so fresh and vibrant. As an aside, the paperback has a lovely photo of the author on the inside cover, showing a cat scrambling up his shoulder. His very own Lily perhaps? This is the most utterly charming novella. Completely and utterly delightful, this was the perfect weekend read. Loved 💖🐱

  3. 4 out of 5

    JimZ

    A delightful read. Thanks to a GR friend who recommended this. May I pass the recommendation on? Prior to this read, I had never read a description of a cat fart, and now I have (😮), and so I guess now my life is complete. I’ve read it all… 😐 😉 Such an interesting novella. I liked how a person in the novella would describe for the reader what he or she thought of another person, and then hear the other person’s side of things. Nobody exactly was in the right or the wrong. At the center of it all w A delightful read. Thanks to a GR friend who recommended this. May I pass the recommendation on? Prior to this read, I had never read a description of a cat fart, and now I have (😮), and so I guess now my life is complete. I’ve read it all… 😐 😉 Such an interesting novella. I liked how a person in the novella would describe for the reader what he or she thought of another person, and then hear the other person’s side of things. Nobody exactly was in the right or the wrong. At the center of it all was Lily the cat. Maybe I liked this story a lot because we had a cat, Dusty, who lived for close to 20 years, and just like Lily she ran away and we had assumed we had lost her forever and then 6 weeks later she showed up hiding underneath our garage…looking in pretty bad shape….we had no idea where she had been but were overjoyed that she came back to us. So when reading about Lily and her habits, I was reminded of our cat Dusty. We named her Dusty because when we got her as a kitten, she had ear mites and we had to put some sort of powder on her and she would shake it off, and there would be a cloud of dust emanating from her. And like Lily, Dusty had a litter of kittens. But unlike the man in this novella, Shozo, and Lily the cat, I never put a mackerel in my mouth and let half of it dangle from my mouth so the cat could come over and start eating the half of the fish that was dangling from my mouth. Eeeeee-ewe….dude, what is your problem?!!! There were a lot of one-line blurbs from different reviews at the front and back of the book, and I liked one in particular because I agreed with it…it was from the LA Times: “Fascinating, although at times slightly repellent.” ‘A Cat, A Man, and Two Women’ was close to 100 pages. The next two stories that made up the book –‘The Little Kingdom’ (3 stars) and “Professor Rado’ (2 stars) – were each about 30 pages. Those to me were, ‘meh’. I am rating the novella 4.5 stars (which when rounded up according to my math is 5 stars) and not including the 30-page stories in my rating. They are mere icing on the cake - the standout is ‘A Cat, A Man, and Two Women’. Reviews • https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.co... • https://quotidianamateur.wordpress.co... • https://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/b...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    As the title suggests, this is a short story about a man, his cat Lily and his ex and current wives. The story starts with ex wife Shinako writing a desperate letter to Fukuko (the current wife) for Lily the cat - admitting that she's lonely without anything to love. She states in her letter that Lily was loved by her husband Shozo more than she was, and that if Fukuko keeps Lily the same will happen to her. With the seed of doubt sown, Lily is sent to live with Shinako, a pawn in their games of As the title suggests, this is a short story about a man, his cat Lily and his ex and current wives. The story starts with ex wife Shinako writing a desperate letter to Fukuko (the current wife) for Lily the cat - admitting that she's lonely without anything to love. She states in her letter that Lily was loved by her husband Shozo more than she was, and that if Fukuko keeps Lily the same will happen to her. With the seed of doubt sown, Lily is sent to live with Shinako, a pawn in their games of love and jealousy. However what no one expects is for Shinako and Lily to bond, and Shinako goes on a journey of forgiveness and self discovery through her new found love of the cat. It's through Lily the cat that we see all the characters true nature, with Shozo only expressing any real emotions when discussing or interacting with the cat. Without her, he'd be the imbecile his mother and new wife think that he is. However, with Lily we see that he actually can care and love deeply. This was a great short story, that manages to pack quite a lot of emotional depth into a short page count - however it ends incredibly abruptly, and without any real sense of conclusion. I wanted more from these characters I had just got to know.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    Second Review 3.75 stars Rather surprisingly I found reading this three-novella book more hilarious than my first attempt, probably due to more time spent freely and reflection applied. One of the reasons is that, I think, I didn't know why I was in a rush while reading and my first review was all I could share with my Goodreads friends; therefore, I decided to reread this trio and hoped to get some ideas that should be different and beneficial to some keen Tanizaki readers. First, reading his fir Second Review 3.75 stars Rather surprisingly I found reading this three-novella book more hilarious than my first attempt, probably due to more time spent freely and reflection applied. One of the reasons is that, I think, I didn't know why I was in a rush while reading and my first review was all I could share with my Goodreads friends; therefore, I decided to reread this trio and hoped to get some ideas that should be different and beneficial to some keen Tanizaki readers. First, reading his first novella "A Cat, A Man, and Two Women" is great for cat lovers as we can see from various episodes apparently revealing intimate, caring love between a female cat Lily called vs. a man named Shozo till such love is the cause of prior hatred of Shinako (Shozo's ex-wife) and lingering envy of Fukuko (his mistress). So those cat lovers should never miss reading this story since the more we read, the more we love cats, we simply can't help considering keeping one or two at home. Then, his second one "The Little Kingdom" is concerned with the relationships between Kaijima Shokichi a kind and wise primary school teacher and a new student in his class named Numakura who has shown his leadership that amazes his teacher. This novella should be a required reading for education students and prospective teachers since, psychologically speaking, they can learn something from all characters in the story and apply in their teaching career as professionals; we are sad and hopeless whenever we come across brutality or maltreatment, verbal or physical, toward students/teachers in any class, any level in any country in the world. Finally, his third one "Professor Rado" deals with a professor (his name being the title) whose annoyingly amusing rubbery dialogue is barely understandable via his interview from the reporter from the A. Journal. Some years later, the reporter casually meets him at a variety show and the professor divulges his preference toward Mayumi, a beautiful revue actress. Eventually, he finds out that the professor gets married, his wife is Mayumi; he is stunned from what he sees and hears. To continue . . . First Review Having searched, found out and enjoyed reading his fictions like “Seven Japanese Tales”, “The Reed Cutter and Captain Shigemoto’s Mother”, “The Makioka Sisters” etc., I still long to read all of his published works bought as new or second-hand copies and this is one of those in my unread list. In fact, it is a three-piece collection, that is, “A Cat, A Man, and Two Women” (a novella), “The Little Kingdom” (a story), and “Professor Rado” (a story). The first novella itself reveals human-cum-feline affections between Shozo and Lily in which there is a struggle regarding the ensuing battles and arguments between his ex-wife (Shinako) and her successor (Fukuko). Then, the second story, I think, should be critically read and probably applied in education because it depicts a student named Numakura Shokichi whose character and thinking have eventually impressed his peers and helped his poor teacher, Kaijima, by his unique ways. Finally, the third story is a bit funny since it is about Professor Rado (similar to the Swiss watch maker) whose curiosity leads him to find his bride, twenty years younger, and a sense of dark/bitter humor at the end.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    It is for good reason that the cat is listed first in the title of the main tale in this three-story omnibus by Junichirō Tanizaki, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, which is, in part, a grown-up version of The Incredible Journey. Lily the feline is the real charmer at the center of a messy human saga of adultery, divorce, family intrigue and vengeance, involving the indolent Shozo (the man), his chastened ex-wife, Shinako, and his young new trophy wife, Fukuko. Lily becomes the object of a custody b It is for good reason that the cat is listed first in the title of the main tale in this three-story omnibus by Junichirō Tanizaki, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, which is, in part, a grown-up version of The Incredible Journey. Lily the feline is the real charmer at the center of a messy human saga of adultery, divorce, family intrigue and vengeance, involving the indolent Shozo (the man), his chastened ex-wife, Shinako, and his young new trophy wife, Fukuko. Lily becomes the object of a custody battle of sorts between Shozo and Shinako, but also the target of scorn in a battle of wills between him and Fukuko and Shozo's Mother, O-rin (in fact, there are three women in the tale). Oblivious but also seemingly tuned in to the human drama going on around her, Lily elicits a wide range of emotions from the humans she touches and sits at the center of a whirlwind of competing human motivations, relating to each other and to her. In weaving this tale, Tanizaki writes one of the most perceptive and touching stories I've ever read about the relationship between cats and people; his understanding of feline behavior and the interactions among the species is spot-on and beautifully expressed. It's hard to imagine that science knows much more about cat behavior than Tanizaki had observed when he wrote this story way back in 1936. The balance of the book consists of two shorter pieces, "The Little Kingdom" and "Professor Rado," both dealing with enigmatic males whose mysterious abilities to gain respect and lead opinion draw weaker characters who want to curry favor and better understand that magnetic pull. The first of these two pieces, "...Kingdom" is the better one, providing a taste of Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and Village of the Damned well before the fact in its tale of a seemingly quiet new student, Numakura, whose penchant for sly power politics and discipline leads to his authoritarian control over his fellow students and, eventually, the adults. The story is chillingly prescient in suggesting the rise of the military dictatorship that would plunge Japan disastrously into World War II. "Professor Rado" I found less interesting, telling the story of a reporter's attempt to get at the secret life of a tight-lipped professor of some renown. My four-star rating is primarily for the title story, though the other two also are worth your attention. ([email protected] 2011, very slightly corrected in 2016)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I really enjoyed this. Tanizaki is an amazing writer, and this little story is fun, touching and powerful. I'd certainly recommend. I really enjoyed this. Tanizaki is an amazing writer, and this little story is fun, touching and powerful. I'd certainly recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jae

    Cats have a wisdom of their own - they understand at once how someone feels about them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    "If you want someone to trust you, you have to begin by showing trust in them." (52)This collection contains three works by Junichiro Tanizaki: the titular novella A Cat, a Man, and Two Women; the short story The Little Kingdom; and another short story Professor Rado. Apparently, all three were written when Tanizaki's was going through his second divorce, and while he was chiefly occupied with translating The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese. I picked up the collection mainly for the novella, "If you want someone to trust you, you have to begin by showing trust in them." (52)This collection contains three works by Junichiro Tanizaki: the titular novella A Cat, a Man, and Two Women; the short story The Little Kingdom; and another short story Professor Rado. Apparently, all three were written when Tanizaki's was going through his second divorce, and while he was chiefly occupied with translating The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese. I picked up the collection mainly for the novella, which is also discussed in John Gray's wonderful Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life. It did not disappoint—it's a lovely story, beautifully written, which will appeal to anyone with a heart for cats (Lily is unforgettable, poor thing). I think that A Cat, a Man, and Two Women ranks with Takashi Hiraide's The Guest Cat, which I recently read, among the greatest cat-centered books. The two short stories were interesting and touching at times—more so The Little Kingdom than Professor Rado, which I liked least.

  10. 4 out of 5

    rosamund taylor

    Shozo has left his wife, Shinako, for a younger and wealthier woman, Fukuko. But the only one Shozo truly loves is the tortoiseshell cat, Lily. He plays with Lily every evening, makes sure Fukuko cooks Lily's favourite food, and lets Lily sleep in his bed. Like any true cat lover, he feels privileged when Lily gives him affection and attention, particularly when she sleeps on him and purrs, or licks and nuzzles his face. But Shinako wants to steal the thing she knows that Shozo truly loves, and Shozo has left his wife, Shinako, for a younger and wealthier woman, Fukuko. But the only one Shozo truly loves is the tortoiseshell cat, Lily. He plays with Lily every evening, makes sure Fukuko cooks Lily's favourite food, and lets Lily sleep in his bed. Like any true cat lover, he feels privileged when Lily gives him affection and attention, particularly when she sleeps on him and purrs, or licks and nuzzles his face. But Shinako wants to steal the thing she knows that Shozo truly loves, and comes up with a plot to convince Fukuko to make Shozo give Lily to her. This is a wonderful novella with a cat at the centre: Tanizaki does a wonderful job of creating a convincing cat personality, while never anthropomorphising Lily. It's also a clever depiction of human emotions, and how differently people view one another, and how sometimes the affection of an animal is far more fulfilling the complexities of people. This is the first time I've ever read a description that captures how truly noxious cat farts are -- Tanizaki really knew cats!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fiona MacDonald

    From a writer described as the greatest Japanese author of the twentieth century, this is really a stunning little story. So deceptively simple but just so charmingly written, and entirely relatable. What beautiful, yet effortlessly delicate imagery he conjures up. The lead of the story is a beautiful tortoiseshell cat named Lily, who is in the middle of a battle of wits between her owners (a separated couple). The husband has moved his wife out and a new wife in, a wife who does not appreciate From a writer described as the greatest Japanese author of the twentieth century, this is really a stunning little story. So deceptively simple but just so charmingly written, and entirely relatable. What beautiful, yet effortlessly delicate imagery he conjures up. The lead of the story is a beautiful tortoiseshell cat named Lily, who is in the middle of a battle of wits between her owners (a separated couple). The husband has moved his wife out and a new wife in, a wife who does not appreciate his obsession with his cat as much as he was hoping. The husband is besotted by Lily, usually feeding her better than he feeds himself. He can't imagine life without her. Meanwhile his ex wife is pining for Lily dreadfully and writes a secret letter to her husband's new wife to persuade her to give Lily up to her in return for her husband... it's only a little cat after all..... It's just such a sweet story, and anyone who is in love with their cat will totally lap this up (no pun intended) and find shadows of themselves in the characters. Lovely.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    An amazing collection of short stories. RTC

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melda

    Lili 💚

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I really enjoyed this little book. There isn't a lot to it, it's only 128 pages, but it's packed full of detail and emotion. The focus is very much on the characters in the title and the relationship between them as scorned first wife convinces her ex's new wife to force him to give his treasured cat to her. Is it a means of revenge, is she trying to stir up trouble for the new couple or is she trying to win him back? It is a very engaging read and gives a wonderful sense of the Japanese culture I really enjoyed this little book. There isn't a lot to it, it's only 128 pages, but it's packed full of detail and emotion. The focus is very much on the characters in the title and the relationship between them as scorned first wife convinces her ex's new wife to force him to give his treasured cat to her. Is it a means of revenge, is she trying to stir up trouble for the new couple or is she trying to win him back? It is a very engaging read and gives a wonderful sense of the Japanese culture. I loved the way the characters were so finely detailed and complex and the portrayal of their relationships wants and niggles. It also captures perfectly the bond between cat and person and yep I have to confess the cat was the highlight of the whole thing for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sana Abdulla

    Written simply, this novella is nice but not outstanding. It has a bunch of self-centered people scheming around a cat, the tale highlights their negative traits and ulterior motives which for some of them is necessary for survival.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cabbie

    According to the Wikipedia page Cats and the Internet, "images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the web". It goes further: "viewing online cat media is related to positive emotions, and ... it even may work as a form of digital therapy or stress relief". Can the same be said for feline-centric literature? After finishing a couple of rather depressing books, I began Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's A Cat, a Man, and Two Women hoping for some cat induced Covid stress reli According to the Wikipedia page Cats and the Internet, "images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the web". It goes further: "viewing online cat media is related to positive emotions, and ... it even may work as a form of digital therapy or stress relief". Can the same be said for feline-centric literature? After finishing a couple of rather depressing books, I began Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's A Cat, a Man, and Two Women hoping for some cat induced Covid stress relief. Published in 1936 the story provides a portrait of a Japanese marriage in the early 20th century. It begins with a letter from Shinako, the wife abandoned and divorced by her ex, Shozo, written to her replacement, Fukuko. No-one is fooled by its contents, in which she begs to be given Lily, her husband's cat, to keep her company. It's an attempt to bait Shozo into visiting his ex-wife so that she can win him back. But Lily is no ordinary cat, indeed no cat owner believes their cat to be ordinary. She's a tortoiseshell, not Japanese, and has an appealing personality, "her wild tomboyish ways were just like those of a seven- or eight-year-old girl, a primary-school student at her most mischievous". Shozo himself is a man-child, spoiled and feckless. The only things he really wants to do are "raise cats, play a little billiards, fiddle about with potted bonsai trees, and flirt with waitresses at cheap cafes". As for the two wives, Fukuko prefers an easy life, just like Shozo. She "was not really as fond of cats as her husband imagined. Her affections were forced by two considerations: the desire to accommodate Shozo’s tastes and to spite Shinako". The divorcee is hard-working, able to support herself with sewing, and "for the past one or two years provided more than half the income for the family, ‘weak woman’ though she was". I found myself rooting for Shinako, in my head shouting "you're better off without him, love!" It's definitely a book for cat lovers. The descriptions of Lily and her behaviour are recognisable to anyone who's ever owned a cat. It's a light-hearted, entertaining story with engaging characters. Who gets the cat, who gets Shozo, and who gets the happy ending? You'll have to read it yourself to find out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephy Simon

    A Cat, A Man, and Two Women by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki translated from the Japanese by Paul McCarthy,   A cat, a man, and two women is about a man, his ex-wife, his present wife, and a cat.  Shinako lost everything when Shozo, her husband, broke their marriage and married his lover, Fukoko. Left alone with no one to look up for the only thing she longs for is a cat. Lily, the same cat, was the cause of drift between her and Shozo. So, when she requested Fukoko to let her keep the cat, everyone doubted A Cat, A Man, and Two Women by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki translated from the Japanese by Paul McCarthy,   A cat, a man, and two women is about a man, his ex-wife, his present wife, and a cat.  Shinako lost everything when Shozo, her husband, broke their marriage and married his lover, Fukoko. Left alone with no one to look up for the only thing she longs for is a cat. Lily, the same cat, was the cause of drift between her and Shozo. So, when she requested Fukoko to let her keep the cat, everyone doubted her intention. It is the affection of these characters to the cat that takes the story forward. The cat is listed first in the title for a reason; the cat is the central character of the story. The whole trouble is caused because of her, although she lives unaware of everything. While reading the book, the first thing that came to my mind is that it's insane to think that a family broke because of a cat. The love and devotion of Shinako or the charm and prosperity of Fukoko were not enough to hold Shozo from running after the cat. We are living in a world where people are fighting over trivial things, then making a few sacrifices for the one thing that you dearly love can't be called insane. What I loved? The humorous unfolding of the thought of the characters. What I didn't like? The lagging description at some places and abrupt ending, I was expecting more. Recommended To all cat lovers My Rating ⭐⭐⭐.75

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zala

    A tedious novella. I only liked the cat but there are vastly better cat books out there. 1.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marina Sofia

    4 and a half stars. I thought the ending was somewhat too abrupt, as if the author had simply run out of steam or ideas. Otherwise, such a wonderful description of a cat and its relationship to the humans around it. A lovely little gem, full review here https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.... 4 and a half stars. I thought the ending was somewhat too abrupt, as if the author had simply run out of steam or ideas. Otherwise, such a wonderful description of a cat and its relationship to the humans around it. A lovely little gem, full review here https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Teenu Vijayan

    "Considering all that I have sacrificed, is it too much to ask for a little cat in return?" #Decodingbookswithme A cat, a man and two women by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki translated by Paul McCathy. For a really short book, I took some time to finish this one. Tanizaki is a literary gaint in modern Japanese literature and I can see the reason too. Despite a broken marriage, Shinako decides to take back one thing that mattered to her the most- the pet cat she and her ex husband shared. This cat (Lily) surpr "Considering all that I have sacrificed, is it too much to ask for a little cat in return?" #Decodingbookswithme A cat, a man and two women by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki translated by Paul McCathy. For a really short book, I took some time to finish this one. Tanizaki is a literary gaint in modern Japanese literature and I can see the reason too. Despite a broken marriage, Shinako decides to take back one thing that mattered to her the most- the pet cat she and her ex husband shared. This cat (Lily) surprisingly becomes the unwilling pawn for the three humans in the story. The new wife finds the cat as a competition, ex wife wants revenge by separating it from the husband and the husband is at a tough position where he is reluctant to let go of his pet. You don't realise how you start caring for a pet until you have to take tough decisions. The story slowly reveals how not Shinako and Shozo grew close to Lily. It's almost funny how the three humans in this story only reveal their true feelings towards the cat. The attachment, the genuine love Shozo had for the cat, surprised even me as I found him to be a very boring person who didn't care for neither of the two women in his life. The sense of loss he feels when he has to part with his companion felt real. The book definitely worked for me as a cat parent I could see where the emotions were going. Though you needn't be a cat lover to read this one, it does throw some light into the Japanese society and how women are always judged for their life choices. The subtle hints were peppered along the pages where you can sense this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David B

    Although all three stories in this volume are worthwhile, it is really the title novella that stands out. A complicated relationship between a man, his first wife, and his current wife plays out through their machinations regarding Lily the cat. In a society (1930s Japan) where a woman really depended on an advantageous marriage to a successful man, the two women, along with the man’s mother, put a great deal of pressure on him to live up to his responsibilities. Unfortunately for them, Shozo is Although all three stories in this volume are worthwhile, it is really the title novella that stands out. A complicated relationship between a man, his first wife, and his current wife plays out through their machinations regarding Lily the cat. In a society (1930s Japan) where a woman really depended on an advantageous marriage to a successful man, the two women, along with the man’s mother, put a great deal of pressure on him to live up to his responsibilities. Unfortunately for them, Shozo is an amiable shlub without much ambition who takes a great deal of satisfaction from his simple and undemanding relationship with his cat. I suspect that his love for the animal gains more intensity as a refuge from what he sees as the scheming women around him. Junichiro Tanizaki writes wonderfully about cats and their relationships with their owners and no less knowingly about his human characters. The first wife, Shinako, becomes particularly sympathetic as her feelings toward the cat evolve. Lily is a fully developed character as well. This is first-rate literature, but especially if you are a cat-lover.

  22. 4 out of 5

    aly ✿

    Impressed & loved how it allowed me to get to know each character, their thoughts and motives so thoroughly despite it being a rather short book. My only complaint would be the abrupt ending :/ really wish it were longer but an excellent read nonetheless

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Tolomei

    Really masterful! Not just to cat lovers, I'd recommend this book to anyone who appreciates deep feelings and bonds with a furry, warm creature that just happens to be a cat. Had Lilly been a dog, she'd have inspired just as much love and devotion. Her personality is the real deal, and I truly enjoyed how the author brought it to the fore, and how he permeated his entire narration with it. Really masterful! Not just to cat lovers, I'd recommend this book to anyone who appreciates deep feelings and bonds with a furry, warm creature that just happens to be a cat. Had Lilly been a dog, she'd have inspired just as much love and devotion. Her personality is the real deal, and I truly enjoyed how the author brought it to the fore, and how he permeated his entire narration with it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Saffron

    A beautifully written, shortish story about possession, love and control. Funny and witty with a small dollop of the sentimentality that is not too treacly sweet. Japanese literature seems to be full of stories of people who really love their cats!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anouk⭐

    This ended up being a lot deeper than I had anticipated. I loved how relatable the relationship to Lily was and hearing my own cat meow at me after reading this felt even sweeter than it usually does. Once again makes me realise that I would drop everything and everyone to be with my cat.❤️

  26. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Love it when friends give me books. A beautiful tale of love, loneliness and cats. A perfect little tome. Thank you Aimee ! 😊💟📚

  27. 4 out of 5

    Minh

    A must-read for cat lovers. Very charming in its own way.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ClareT

    I wanted to enjoy this book so much, and, as is often the case, found myself a little disappointed. It is the story of a lazy man, Shozo, his ex-wife, new wife and Lily the cat, plus his mother. Shinoko the ex has been thrown out of the house, so that Shozo could marry his cousin, Fukoko as engineered by his mother as Shozo's uncle is reasonably wealthy, and they need money. Shinoko asks Fukoko for help persuading Shozo to give her the cat, and plants the seeds in her mind that Lily is much more I wanted to enjoy this book so much, and, as is often the case, found myself a little disappointed. It is the story of a lazy man, Shozo, his ex-wife, new wife and Lily the cat, plus his mother. Shinoko the ex has been thrown out of the house, so that Shozo could marry his cousin, Fukoko as engineered by his mother as Shozo's uncle is reasonably wealthy, and they need money. Shinoko asks Fukoko for help persuading Shozo to give her the cat, and plants the seeds in her mind that Lily is much more beloved than she is ever likely to be. Something that is definitely true. The interesting thing about the book is that it tells the story from the point of view of the different characters, and switches between them, just when you think you have figured out who is in the right, a different viewpoint comes along, all in all it is hard to like any of the characters in the book, even Lily, so perhaps this is why I found it disappointing. Or maybe it was that it just didn't really lead anywhere or really make me think. I was left with a so what feeling and wondering why so many women seemed to care about such a lazy man.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jodie "Bookish" Cook

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book Review Title: A Cat, a Man, and Two Women by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance Rating: 4 Stars I didn’t know anything about this book other than we are following Shinako who has been left by her husband, Shozo for a younger lover, Fukuko and she is trying to get him to give her their cat, Lily. We learn early on that Fukuko conspired with her father and future mother-in-law to get Shinako and Shozo divorced so that she could marry him despite Shozo being her cousin. At first Book Review Title: A Cat, a Man, and Two Women by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance Rating: 4 Stars I didn’t know anything about this book other than we are following Shinako who has been left by her husband, Shozo for a younger lover, Fukuko and she is trying to get him to give her their cat, Lily. We learn early on that Fukuko conspired with her father and future mother-in-law to get Shinako and Shozo divorced so that she could marry him despite Shozo being her cousin. At first, she was happy with him and even lavished attention on Lily to spite Shinako but soon finds herself becoming jealous of the sheer amount of love and affection that Shozo gives Lily. While she is feeling frustrated with her husband Fukuko receives a letter from Shinako claiming that Shozo is saying that he won’t give her Lily because Fukuko refuses to give up the cat and pleads with her to give her Lily. Shinako didn’t ask for anything in the divorce settlement apart from the cat and has made repeated attempts to get Lily from her ex-husband. Fukuko thinks on this for a while and then deciding she wants her husband’s attention she demands that he gives Lily to Shinako despite his pleas that Shinako will abuse Lily which I don’t think is the case but he eventually gives in. Shozo tries to talk with his mother about the situation but his mother agrees that Lily should be given to Shinako even if it is only temporary and they retrieve the cat at a later date as he can’t be seen to not be committed to this new marriage after everything they did to secure it and once again Shozo relents. We begin to look back at Shozo’s life with Lily, he found her as a kitten which working as an apprentice and when he left that job he took Lily with him unable to leave her behind. For almost the next ten years, it was only Shozo and Lily and it is obvious to assume during this time he formed an extremely strong bond with the cat. Shozo describes how he felt living with Lily, being there when she gave birth multiple times and watching her begin to age and how that has affected him emotionally. He is also aware that Shinako might be trying to lure him back using Lily as bait which is something that Fukuko has also thought of and basically forbids him to leave the house alone in case he drifts back to Shinako. During this time, Shinako is trying to gain Lily’s trust but the cat is stubborn and seems depressed and after several days she finally escapes. Shinako is upset and angry at the cat’s behaviour despite her best efforts but she doesn’t hear anything about the cat returning to Shozo. One night while contemplating her marriage with Shozo which was doomed from the start because of his weak willed nature, Lily returns to Shinako and it seems the pair are starting to get on as Lily is acting in the same ways she did when Shinako was married to Shozo. I felt sorry for Shinako who basically carried her husband and his family on her back because he was too weak willed to hold down a job so she provided over half of the household income alone and it was the townspeople’s sympathy for her that allows the family to survive and settle their bills at the end of the year when Shinako had time to save. She also has a plan of her own but I am not sure what it is as she seemed aware of what O-Rin was planning with Fukuko and she seems to know a lot about Fukuko that she really shouldn’t. It turns out that Shinako’s plan is to lure Shozo back but along the way she gets genuinely attached to Lily as well but her plan does seem to be working. Fukuko who has no desire to be a housewife and doesn’t want to learn the skills to look after a house is the cause of much discontent in the household. However, she is also quite abusive often hitting Shozo when she can’t get her own way which leads him to thinking about Lily and inevitably Shinako as well. He makes more than one trip to see Lily without making his presence known at the house but never meets Lily during these trips and decides to make the journey but this time to enter the house once again. Once Shinako leaves, Shozo speaks to her sister and asks to see Lily and she agrees taking him upstairs where he can see Lily is be excellently cared for by his ex-wife. During this time with Lily he realises he drove Shinako to behaviour the way she had and that she didn’t deserve what was done to her. However, when Shinako returns he flees from the house before she can see him and the novel ends. Obviously I believe that this visit will spark a pattern in Shozo eventually leading him back to Shinako and Lily and the three might end up living happily together in a way they couldn’t during the time they were married but I guess we will never know. Overall, A Cat, A Man, and Two Women was an interesting story to read and if you like novels that focus on characters and their relationships then I’d recommend it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ezgisu

    My first time reading Japanese literature and naturally my first Tanizaki. Sometimes the intricacies we can’t analyze so easily in our personal relationships show through third vessels, ones we are not afraid to be our complete selves around, and use as our safe haven. It was interesting to see the characters inner worlds throughout the ups and downs of their lives, reflected on their perception of the cat. A hard recommend for anyone but especially cat lovers who know best about the exclusive i My first time reading Japanese literature and naturally my first Tanizaki. Sometimes the intricacies we can’t analyze so easily in our personal relationships show through third vessels, ones we are not afraid to be our complete selves around, and use as our safe haven. It was interesting to see the characters inner worlds throughout the ups and downs of their lives, reflected on their perception of the cat. A hard recommend for anyone but especially cat lovers who know best about the exclusive intimacy of feline friendship.

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