Books / Reviews | RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS ABOUT JAPAN

'Cats of the Louvre': A storied museum reveals its secrets

by Kris Kosaka

Contributing Writer

Fans of visual art can feast on a special treat with Taiyo Matsumoto’s recently translated “Cats of the Louvre,” the latest in a longstanding collaboration between the museum and comic artists across France and Japan.

Cats of the Louvre, by Taiyo Matsumoto.
432 pages
VIZ SIGNATURE, Fiction.

Matsumoto, an Eisner Award-winning manga artist of “Tekkonkinkreet” and “Sunny” fame, brings the same poignant storytelling and illustrations to the Paris museum and its paintings. In this surreal work, a small band of stray cats take refuge inside the attic of the Louvre, transforming to humanesque hybrids at night. Their adventures and interactions with the humans of the Louvre — guides, guards and visitors — unfold in connected chapters of “secrets.”

“The Secret of the Children,” for example, follows the enigmatic kitten Snowbebe, who can freely prowl the museum by escaping into the paintings. Snowbebe, alongside a cast of cats, slowly forges connections with a group of human characters: veteran security guard Marcel, tour guide Cecile and new employee Patrick.

Mortality, art and the art of living: Matsumoto quietly and compellingly explores these themes as the book progresses. Michael Arias, a longtime friend and collaborator of Matsumoto’s, perfectly captures the dreamlike ambiguity of Matsumoto’s storytelling, no small feat with translation.

Dotted through the narrative are sketches of famous paintings, gorgeously rendered with Matsumoto’s artistic verve. Fans of Matsumoto won’t need convincing, but for newcomers to his work, “Cats of the Louvre” is a compelling glimpse into his artistic universe.

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