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Book Review: She and Her Cat, by Makoto Shinkai, translated by Naruki Nagakawa

She and Her Cat
Makoto Shinkai, translated by Naruki Nagakawa
Hardcover / Ebook / Paperback
ISBN: 978-1982165741
Atria Books, November 2022, 144 pgs

No other book in 2022 has made me cry the way She and Her Cat made me: tearing up at the end of each story and wailing loudly at the conclusion of the book. She and Her Cat was originally an animated film by Makoto Shinkai later turned into a manga and short story collection translated into English by Naruki Nagakawa. When I saw there was a new cover and hardback coming out in November 2022, I wanted to give the book a read.

She and Her Cat is comprised of four short stories surrounding women and their relationships with their cats, told from the perspective of the cats and their owners. Each story is connected either by the cats and their relationships to one another or by their owners and their relationships to the rest of the world. At first, I didn’t consider the book fantasy, but as I read the stories, specifically the sections from the point of view of the cats, I felt like She and Her Cat held that whisper of speculative fantasy I enjoy in more literary works.

The cats in the story have a rich culture and society that anthropomorphizes them in a way that’s easy for me to see in my own cats and the cats that roam my neighborhood. Normally, that type of writing or fantasy doesn’t touch me, but it’s hard to ignore such strong and delicate prose that doesn’t get in the way of the story but pulls the reader through from one moment to the next.

I know that the description of She and Her Cat seems really simple. And in a way, these stories are simple. They deal with breakups, pet companionship, depression, anxiety, and other everyday life bumps. But the way each of the stories is written to form one story about being a good companion—whether that’s to another person, yourself, or an animal—expresses these small moments in large and dramatic ways that punch you in the gut. She and Her Cat creates one story out of many that seamlessly flows along, casually and tenderly ripping out your heart in the best, most heartwarming way.

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Aigner Loren Wilson

Aigner Loren Wilson - A side profile of a Black woman staring out at the sea with the ocean, cliffs, and trees in the background.

Aigner Loren Wilson is a queer Black writer of speculative fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and games. She serves as a senior fiction editor at Strange Horizons and has guest-edited issues of Fireside Fiction and Apparition Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in FIYAH, Anathema, Arsenika, and other publications. When she’s not writing or editing for others, she’s learning, hiking, or loving on her fur babies—both human and animal. To check out her books, games, bread bakes, and other writings visit her website (aignerlwilson.com).