Radio 2 Book Club - The Cat and The City

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The next book to be featured on the Jo Whiley Radio 2 Book Club will be The Cat and The City, by Nick Bradley. The book was released on 7 May and Nick will be on the show on Monday 1 June.

We have an exclusive extract available for you to read. We also have some discussion questions for your group to use.

The Cat and The City

In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.

In a series of spellbinding, interlocking narratives – with styles ranging from manga to footnotes – Nick Bradley has hewn a novel of interplay and estrangement; of survival and self-destruction; of the desire to belong and the need to escape.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved The Cat and The City – here are some of their comments:

“This novel captivated me so much that once I’d finished it, I just wanted to read it all again! Vivid, stunning and unexpected – Bradley brings Tokyo to life, with characters full of hopes, dreams, disappointments and superstitions and every one of them has a cat in their lives. At first it feels like a collection of short stories, but soon, the character start to connect, and it’s truly magical. I learnt about the ancient art of tebori tattooing, calligraphy, computer games, okonamiyake, car production, cat cloning, taxi driving, disappearing cats, manga, the yakuza gangs, karaoke and much, much more. Can’t wait to read more by this author!”

“I loved this. A collection of (at first glance) stand-alone short stories. But incredibly cleverly woven together using a calico cat as a golden thread. Each story is a gem of description of the city of Tokyo, the Japanese culture and language. But at their heart, they are stories of families: close, estranged, new or old to which we can all relate. Not only that, each story is written in the style of the person who happens to be relating that tale. An elderly person, a child, a yakusa, or a poet, and all totally believable. You don’t have to be a lover of cats to read and enjoy it, you just need to be a lover of stories, and open to the magical world of a vibrant city and its inhabitants.”

About the author

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Nick Bradley is a graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA who is currently completing a PhD in Creative & Critical Writing, focusing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature.

A word from Nick

“Thank you so much to The Reading Agency and BBC Radio 2 for choosing The Cat and The City as a Book Club pick. Set in Tokyo, it follows the adventures of a stray cat, and the huge cast of characters she encounters on her wanderings around the city. The book explores ideas of connection, isolation, networks, family, how we fall apart, but also how we can stay together.

As someone who grew up travelling from place to place because of my father’s job, and never having anywhere to call home, upon arrival somewhere new I’ve always sought out the nearest library. The ubiquity of ‘the library’ itself, the fact that wherever we go, there’s one waiting for us – a portal and a connection to others – has always felt reassuring. It’s where we congregate, it’s where we connect our minds to those who’ve come before us, some of them long dead and gone, but their voices echo through the pages, like old friends. It’s where we all transform into readers.

As we are all discovering now: as great as technology is, there’s nothing that can quite replace the physicality of human interaction – the smile from a stranger holding a copy of your favourite book, the librarian who remembered the book you came looking for last week and kept it behind the counter for you…

We need one another, now, more than ever. I hope we all can continue to stay connected, to read together, to cry together, to argue together, and to laugh together. Thank you, and take care of one another.”

Get involved

Not yet a member of Reading Groups for Everyone? Sign up now.

Tune in to Jo Whiley’s show on Monday 1 June to hear a live interview with Nick.

Have you read The Cat and The City? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub and #TheCatandTheCity. You can also follow Nick.

Planning to buy The Cat and The City for your group? Buy books from Hive and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

Want to leave a review or see what other readers thought? Visit our Book Reviews page.

Want to make sure you get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

You can join the Radio 2 Book Club Facebook group, and also follow Jo Whiley on Twitter.

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