Book Review

Review: Before the Coffee gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This short novel was such a pleasure to read. It has that calm, heartfelt and emotional atmosphere that really typifies the best of this style of Japanese literature. This is a short review for a short book.

Title: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Pages: 213
Publisher: Picador, Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: September 19th 2019
Ownership: eARC provided by the publisher

Rating: 4.5 stars rounded down to 4 stars

About the Book

The premise is simple – in an otherwise unremarkable café in Tokyo, it is possible travel back in time. Through four short stories featuring four characters with small connection to each other, we explore different motivations for wanting to travel through time, and how, even if you cannot change the present, an experience can still change a person.

My Review

What I particularly enjoyed about the book was how simple it was. The rules of time travel were a little complicated and off-putting (and not without some risk), but that perhaps served to make it an option only for the truly desperate.

And, despite featuring four people with four very different sets of reasons for wanting to travel in time (perhaps even in order of importance), they all still needed to hear, or say, the same thing from someone, even if they hadn’t realised it.

I like that kind of thread of wistful interconnection in a story, and how the characters were ultimately linked and important to each other.

I also enjoyed the strange and precise rules of time travel in this book. They added a level of admin and complexity so that it couldn’t be used by just anyone, but by those desperate enough to take the risk.

I did want to know who the lady in the dress was, and how she came to be there – but also I enjoy the strange mystery of just not knowing too. In a book about time travel, it doesn’t all require an answer.

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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