For this week’s book-cast we are joined by Nick Bradley to share ‘The Cat And The City’ an incredible, polyphonic novel with cartoons, photographs, stories & a chaotic collection of characters all set in Tokyo. This novel is quirky & complex, that beautifully depicts the Japanese culture & the value of connection in our life. This chat is an opportunity to peer into Nick’s mind, as we chat all things Japan, cats & the inspiration that led to this brilliant debut novel.
What’s in this chat:
- A little on the plot: The book was based around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, (which is not going ahead this year) & follows the journey of a stray cat who brushes past the many lives of people within Tokyo. As the reader continues, they realise that there is more connectedness to each character than what you first may consider.
- The story, according to Nick, in a nutshell is about the importance of connection & the difficulties that arise maintaining connections.
- Bradley started writing the novel when he was doing his creative writing degree at UEA.
- Nick on how he planned to create such a chaotic novel with several characters, stories & experiences. Hint: it involved drawing out a map with story titles, lines & different paths of each character. Although at the beginning, it may have seemed like a spider’s web, the stories are all interconnected, like the streets of Tokyo.
- Nick on drawing inspiration on the writing of Balzac, with his novel Père Goriot. “I wanted to build up a city, and a city involves lots of voices, lots of perspectives..”
- The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer as an inspiration behind the novel, with the use of different voices of counts, squires & knights, building the social fabric of the area within the pages of the book.
- Nick on the book being a ‘love letter to Tokyo’ & the tattoo of Tokyo’s map on the back of an enigmatic female character.
- Nick on his experience living in Japan & living in Tokyo as a Japanese translator.
- The Japanese salarymen & the unique experiences & subsets that exist within Japanese culture.
- Nick on the drinking culture in Japan: “To be honest I enjoyed it”.
- Nick on the homelessness in Japan. The neat, working population of salarymen in between apartments who sleep on a cardboard box, but existed as homeless in a very regulated, uniquely Japanese way.
- Nick on his path to becoming fluent in Japanese & learning to write the kanji characters. “It’s a really clever writing system.”
- Nick on his future trajectory of becoming a crossword master.
- The looming, large & all-consuming feeling within the book of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics & Nick on his personal experience with the overall experience. “Often in Olympic cities they round up cats & dogs & euthanise them.” Says Nick.
- The angry group of people in Japan who were unhappy that Tokyo had become the Olympic city for 2020.
- Nick on his experience as a debut writer & studying at UEA.
- Nick on his next book to come.