Before the Coffee Gets Cold – by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Who would you want to meet, and what would you like to do if you can travel in time? In an over 100-year old café in a small back alley in Tokyo, there’s a certain seat that if you sit on it, you’ll be sent to the past, or forward to the future.

Kawaguchi explores time travel in this novel in four different scenarios which are all set in the café. There are a few troublesome rules for time traveling. You cannot change the present, you cannot move from the seat while in the past or in the future, and you have to finish the coffee before it gets cold, otherwise you’ll get stuck and become a ghost.

I wouldn’t say this novel is great literature, but it’s very entertaining. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Kawaguchi’s writing is simple, straightforward, and moving, especially in the last chapter.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold was adapted into a movie in 2018. The novel was actually adapted from a play by Kawaguchi himself.

Translated from the Japanese by Georffrey Trousselot
Published in 2015 (Japanese), and in 2019 (English) by @picador

T. Hoang Oct. 2019.

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