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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. 5 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

    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.

  3. 5 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.

  4. 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)

  5. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jae

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

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    An amazing collection of short stories. RTC

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melda

    Lili 💚

  9. 5 out of 5

    Minh

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

  10. 4 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Neko

    Classic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melike Sevindik

    This book would be astonishing if there is a binding end. Anyway, I had fun when I was reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brona's Books

    The Japanese have a curious relationship with cats in their literature. It's intense, tender, humane, faithful and compassionate. Neko to Shōzō to Futari no Onna or A Cat, A Man and Two Women by Junichiro Tanizaki is a short novel that is a prime example of this feline devotion. There are oodles of gorgeous descriptions of cats being cats, that any cat lover will know and love intimately - from cats snuggling up with you under the covers on a cold night, to stretching up to put their front paws on The Japanese have a curious relationship with cats in their literature. It's intense, tender, humane, faithful and compassionate. Neko to Shōzō to Futari no Onna or A Cat, A Man and Two Women by Junichiro Tanizaki is a short novel that is a prime example of this feline devotion. There are oodles of gorgeous descriptions of cats being cats, that any cat lover will know and love intimately - from cats snuggling up with you under the covers on a cold night, to stretching up to put their front paws on your thighs, begging for a tempting morsel of your dinner. But this particular cat, Lily, becomes a bone of contention, a tug-o-war between the two women and the man in the title. Lily's fine cat behaviours are only appreciated by her male owner, Shozo. His two wives are jealous of his dedication and love for Lily..... All this is done so subtly and gently by Tanizaki, though, that you barely realise how awful they are until the very end. Lily is the shining star of this story - the only one with any integrity, who remained true to her own nature the entire time. Full review here - http://bronasbooks.blogspot.com/2019/...

  14. 5 out of 5

    lauraღ

    Truly, husband and wife could hide no secrets whatsoever from the cat. A fascinating and charming novella about loneliness and comeuppance and marriage. The title gives you the cast, and it's appropriately ordered, because Lily the cat really is the star of this book. I appreciated what the author was saying about relationships and personal responsibility and love, but mostly I just really loved all the scenes with the cat lol. This veered right of a predictable (and what would have been disappoi Truly, husband and wife could hide no secrets whatsoever from the cat. A fascinating and charming novella about loneliness and comeuppance and marriage. The title gives you the cast, and it's appropriately ordered, because Lily the cat really is the star of this book. I appreciated what the author was saying about relationships and personal responsibility and love, but mostly I just really loved all the scenes with the cat lol. This veered right of a predictable (and what would have been disappointing to me) path, and I appreciate it for that. I wish the ending had been fuller, but I still really liked this. 3.5 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natrila Femi

    #literaturekocheng number 4. Though the ending is abrupt, I enjoy how a cat can be the mirror for humans' real feelings and desires. The fight over the ownership of the cat is ugly that it reveals some of the most genuine emotions that humans have. Also, I couldn't fathom how Tanizaki wrote with so many details on the cat's behavior. Written in 1936, he must have had a very keen eye in observing feline's behavior. I might as well read his other works after this.

  16. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Atul_reads

    4.5 stars. The author did an amazing job in explaining all the detail occurred to a real house that own pet. Its really on point and really relatable. Those of you who didn't own a pet wouldn't know why the owner can be droved that way. But once you are keen towards them you'll feel that your world is content. Because a cat can cure loneliness and never judged you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Essi

    Cats are the best, but this little story was also quite funny and very nicely written. The cat was described so nicely :)

  19. 5 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!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mariam

    One for animal lovers. I love cats.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie Helen

    This ended SO ABRUPTLY.

  22. 5 out of 5

    aqilahreads

    DNF at 20%. disappointing :(((((

  23. 4 out of 5

    Romee Darling

    4.5 This was SO sweet

  24. 5 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 ! 😊💟📚

  25. 5 out of 5

    Iulia

    A moving story about attachments, caring, jealousy and the simplicity and depth of lessons people could learn from cats. An eulogy to cats and feelings.

  26. 4 out of 5

    han

    thank you, brother, for gifting me such a marvelous book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian Josh

    Snappy wit and insightful. Full Review: https://ianjoshyateswriting.blogspot.... Snappy wit and insightful. Full Review: https://ianjoshyateswriting.blogspot....

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    Shozo, an indolent, spoiled and child-like man in his late 20s, is forced - through the combined efforts of his mother and his second wife Fukuko - to give his beloved cat Lily into the custody of his first wife Shinako. When he sneaks into Shinako's home for a secret rendezvous with Lily, he is overcome with both excitement and trepidation. "Odd as it may sound, Shozo had never experienced this sort of agitation and impatience before, even in his relations with other human beings." I couldn't de Shozo, an indolent, spoiled and child-like man in his late 20s, is forced - through the combined efforts of his mother and his second wife Fukuko - to give his beloved cat Lily into the custody of his first wife Shinako. When he sneaks into Shinako's home for a secret rendezvous with Lily, he is overcome with both excitement and trepidation. "Odd as it may sound, Shozo had never experienced this sort of agitation and impatience before, even in his relations with other human beings." I couldn't decide whether Lily the cat was just a cat - aloof, and inconsistent in her affections - or a metaphor for Love itself. This Japanese story is slight, really no more than a novella, but it is oddly hypnotic to read. And strangely poignant in the end. This translated text from Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki is an imprint from Daunt Books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wolfe Tone

    Lovely little tale and probably the best piece of cat-fiction I've ever read. Must-read for all cat-lovers. Sweet, funny, light-hearted and without any of the perversion and sado-masochism normally found in Tanizaki's works.

  30. 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.

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