Tuesday 24 September 2019

Book Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Contemporary/Magical Realism)

Title: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Publication Date: 24 September 2019
Contemporary/Magical Realism
ARC from Publisher


In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer's, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Before the Coffee Gets Cold was a cute yet thoughtful story blending contemporary fiction with magical realism. I loved the idea of a cafe from whence you can travel back in time, and all the rules associated with it, and this book was an easy, light read. For me this was a four-star work. I enjoyed the premise and characters but I never fell completely in love with it in the way I would have liked to. It's one I'm certainly glad I had an opportunity to read, but I don't see myself wanted to come back to it again and again. Once was good, but once was enough. If you enjoy contemporary Japanese fiction with a hint of the magical and unusual, definitely check it out.

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