Book Reviews

Japanese Literature Challenge #15 Review: Tales From the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi 2022 Audiobook Challenge Reivew


Read all the Japanese Literature Challenge rules and reviews HERE.

Read the rules for 2022 Audio Book Challenge HERE or HERE

My Interest

You’re right–this isn’t a normal book for someone who doesn’t claim to like time travel, fantasy or sci-fi, but guess what? Last year I took a chance on Before the Coffee Gets Cold and loved it. Since this is the sequel, and it fits both of the challenges, well, no brainer, right?

The Story

In a certain basement cafe in Tokyo, when a certain patron leaves her table to go to the restroom, it is possible to sit in her chair and go back to a specific point in time. But, among the rules for such a trip are: a) you cannot do anything that will alter the future and, b) you must return before the coffee in that other patron’s cup grows cold. In this installment of the Tales we get a little more insight into how it works to go into the future–an option most people do not seek because of the other rule–the person you go to see in the past or future must visit the care.

This is a book that is very hard to review without spoilers. So, if you are sensitive to such things, consider this a SPOILER WARNING.

Whether it is the man who wants to give his wife a gift because she died at the wrong moment, or the man who wants to ease a friend’s mind about his child or ….Not telling all here–read it.

My Thoughts

It is very helpful to have read Before the Coffee Gets Cold, but I’m pretty sure you could manage this as a stand alone, too. I liked that in this installment we learned more about a few of the people in the cafe. I also loved that the tone was exactly the same in the sequel–it is an oddly comforting tone, especially in the audio versio. The story has sad moments, but nothing horrific or trauma-inducing, which is too rare these days. I liked that the believably is on par with a children’s story beginning “Once upon a time….” I often mention Sarah Addison Allen’s novel The Sugar Queen as an example of fantasy or magical realism that I like. These books are on par with that in terms of magic or fantasy or sci fi or time travel. If there is a third book I will happily read it, too.

Tales From the Cafe by  Toshikazu Kawaguchi

And, thank you to Marina Sofia who pointed out the insensitivity of Western readers who continue to put Japanese names backward. Honestly, I had no idea. Even my former Japanese emigre colleague never pointed out that he had switched his names around. I am not sure if this author’s name is correctly ordered or not. Everything I found showed it the way it is on the cover of the book. Maybe he has to accept that in order to be published and have interviewers in the West call him by the right name? Marina is right, it is pretty awful to do that to people.

4174AJ-RtVL._SY346_     My review of Before The Coffee Gets Cold: A Novel by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

4 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge #15 Review: Tales From the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi 2022 Audiobook Challenge Reivew

  1. Oh, thank you for not thinking I am being too picky about the name issue. It really is a pet peeve of mine. So the surname is Kawaguchi – and would come first in any Japanese text. But then, they tend to call each other by surnames anyway – even kids in school. You’d have to be very, very close to start using the first name. I can imagine the poor Japanese authors squirming when someone addresses them by their first name: ‘So, Toshikazu, what inspires you to write about…?’


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