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[Review] Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

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This makes an enjoyable and different kind of read for a book group. Translated from Japanese, the book was originally a play and the four main stories and unchanging scene reflect this.

The book is about time travel and the need to accept the present, not change it. Although very Japanese in that the couple in the first story are both reluctant to show their emotions and real feelings towards each other, the book subtly develops emotional depths. It explores psychological issues of guilt and loss through the relationships of a husband and wife, two sisters and mother and daughter.

The setting in a basement coffee bar without windows, but with three clocks on the wall, emphasises the out of time nature of the story. The four visitors to the cafe have to conform to rules, the main one being that one can only engage with the person one seeks for the length of time that it takes for a cup of coffee to get cold. Hence, the book title.

The stories do make you think as you get drawn into the individual stories. Tension builds to see if they will succeed in the time frame or be stuck in time limbo.

Recommendation: A good choice for a book group, short, an easy read, a glimpse into another culture and quirky!

This review is by The Borrowers Group based at Kesgrave Library.