A Cat Named Toto: Kakuta Mitsuyo's World Beyond Words

Mitsuyo Kakuta is the author of many novels, including Taigan no Kanojo (The Woman On the Other Side), winner of the prestigious Naoki Prize in 2005. She debuted in 1990 with Kofukuna Yugi (A Merry pastime), winning the Kaen Prize, and many other works of hers have been turned into successful films. She currently lives with her cat Toto, a gift from mangaka Rieko Naibara. As it suffers from a heart condition, Toto needs constant care and attention – something that changed the author's life around.

In an October 13, 2011 interview for ilove.cat, Mitsuyo Kakuta bares the link between the world of writing and the world of Toto:

It seems many authors share their life with cats. There are also many novels and short stories where cats appear.

“Before getting my own can, I would read these stories, but my reaction certainly wasn't “Ah, I love cats so much!”. Now, I do find them quite interesting. For example, consider Kou Machida's Neko ni Namakete (Devoured by Cats): I would have never read it unless I owned a cat myself, yet I am fascinated by the way the author describes her cowardly cat. When I got Toto I reread Wata no Kuniyoshi, and I discovered a new, precious side of the story. I didn't use to believe you could communicate with cat but, since I started living with Toto, I understood I can really feel love for a kitten”

Will you write a novel about cats?

“I haven't done it yet, but I think it will happen at some point. I admire the way Kou Machida writes about cats. You can't just write about how cute they are. Still, unless you're as good a narrator as Machida, I think it's really difficult to write about your cat. For example, as I only ever had Toto, I though a cat's breath wouldn't stink. One day though, my husband told me 'It's rare to find a cat with a breath like Toto's'. So, everytime I would visit a friend, I would smell their cat's breath. If I write 'my cat's breath doesn't stink' it would look as if I'm boasting. If I wrote 'I went around and smelled a bunch of cats' breath' it would already be more interesting. I'm thinking of writing something along those lines.”

The author concludes the interview: “Toto is not a cat, nor a human being, it's an individual called Toto. It's a living being called Toto.”
Kakuta Mitsuyo will be a guest at Bologna University on October 29 to present her latest novel's italian translation: La Cicala dell'Ottavo Giorno. To find out more, click here.


Link to the full interview in English: http://ilove.cat/en/3308

Photos: Shin Suzuki

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