Read Chinese Whiskers: A Novel by Pallavi Aiyar Online

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Chinese Whiskers by Pallavi Aiyar is a charming fable set against the landscape of contemporary Beijing, seen through the eyes of two cats.Soyabean is a middle class cat looked after by a grandmother who embodies traditional Chinese morality. Tofu is born to a stray cat mother in a backyard dustbin. They are brought together when they are adopted by foreigners, who live inChinese Whiskers by Pallavi Aiyar is a charming fable set against the landscape of contemporary Beijing, seen through the eyes of two cats.Soyabean is a middle class cat looked after by a grandmother who embodies traditional Chinese morality. Tofu is born to a stray cat mother in a backyard dustbin. They are brought together when they are adopted by foreigners, who live in a traditional style courtyard house in Beijing's traditional hutong neighborhoods. Then Soyabean is offered a job as a model for a new brand of cat food while at the same time a mysterious virus is sickening people across the city. Cats are blamed for it and are being rounded up, and Soyabean and Tofu's idyllic lives as pampered pets come to an abrupt end.Interweaving real episodes in recent Chinese history such as the Olympic Games, the SARS virus, and tainted pet-food scandals with a richly imagined world, this heartwarming story of cats and humans does what W. Bruce Cameron's A Dog's Purpose did for canines. It will make you laugh and tear up, while showing the battles fought between the corruption of modern living and the ideals of traditional life....

Title : Chinese Whiskers: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250014481
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Chinese Whiskers: A Novel Reviews

  • Sundarraj Kaushik
    2018-10-21 18:17

    The book is about the lives of two kittens adopted by a foreigner in China. One female, Tofu, from the streets and the other a male, Soyabean, is adopted from a litter of kittens of a cat that is living with an old man and old woman. The old woman has a son whom the cats do not like as he likes to torture them. Both of them live a protected life in the foreigner's house. It is a world of difference from the one that they lived in their mother's place.The brother of Tofu from the streets visits them and tells them that he has joined the gang that has been formed by the brothers of the one who was born to the cat in the old man's house.The old woman's son visits the foreigner's house and Soyabean is selected to appear in an advertisement for cat food manufactured by the Chinese. The ad is a big success and Soyabean gets enamored with himself and ends up watching himself on the TV. He becomes an icon. The Tofu's brother warns her that the cat food that is being promoted is not good. A epidemic strikes China and it is attributed to the cats. The neighbours want to kill the cats and the animal inspectors are going round the town rounding up the cats. Tofu gets caught by the animal inspectors and is taken off. But she is saved by a good Samaritan who forces the inspectors to release the cats.She finds herself with the dog from her neighbourhood at the site where they building the Bird's Nest for the Olympics. Here she overhears the old woman's son describing how they are using a cheap poisonous substance in the cat food and how they are profiting from it. She and the dog are adopted by worker's at the site and she lives with them for sometime. Her brother has started looking out for her. He and his gang locate her and lead her back to her house much to the delight of the household.Soon the epidemic dies and the cats are safe, but the cats being fed the cat food made my the Chinese are dying and ill health. Tofu tells her about the substandard cat food. They think about how to inform the world about it, but are unable. The ad featuring Soyabean is selected for an award and the cats make a plan.Read the book to see what the plan is and if it succeeds.

  • Elisabetta
    2018-10-26 22:41

    Adoro i gatti!! Era quindi impossibile che non mi piacesse questo libro che ha come protagonisti due simpatici maomi (gattini) pechinesi: Soia e Tofu.Spesso mi ritrovo a pensare che se potessi rinascere (e potessi scegliere), vorrei essere un gatto, ma purtroppo non sempre la vita di un gatto è fortunata..La piccola Tofu, ad esempio, è nata in un bidone della spazzatura e spesso la sua mamma non aveva abbastanza latte per lei e i suoi fratellini (anche se poi la fortuna gira, si sa!).Vorrei essere come uno dei miei gatti, coccolati e probabilmente straviziati, un po' come Soia e Tofu, una volta adottati da Mr e Mrs A."L'incredibile storia di Soia e Tofu" racconta le avventure di questi due simpatici micetti che compiranno cose veramente... incredibili e all'oscuro dai loro padroni!!I capitoli alternano il punto di vista di Soia e di Tofu.Ho trovato molto simpatico il fatto che all'inizio di ogni capitolo ci fosse il disegno stilizzato di un gatto, grassottello e sdraiato per indicare Soia, più longilineo e seduto per Tofu.Molto interessante è stato inoltre l'utilizzo di parole cinesi all'interno del racconto. Oltre ad un glossario finale, le parole venivano subito tradotte all'interno della frase e ciò ha fatto sì che la lettura non rallentasse per l'incomprensibilità di alcune parole e, allo stesso tempo, ha dato un tocco particolare al romanzo.

  • Wida
    2018-11-13 02:28

    3.5 starsTold in the perspective of two adopted cats, Soyabean and Tofu, this book is very easy to enjoy. It may be a bit weird that the animals can understand human language while us, humans, are left clueless when it comes to animals. But overall I think this book is very funny and easy to read. The relationship between Soyabean and Tofu resembles human relationship, specifically siblings. The older sibling is the one who likes to brag about how brave and experienced he is, while the younger sibling is shy and less adventurous. There are some expressions in Chinese, because the story is set in Beijing, but that didn't disturb my reading flow. As a cat person I just can't not love this book.

  • Steve
    2018-10-24 00:15

    A clever, witty look at group hysteria and governmental inepitude. Although set in Beijing, it speaks sharply to man's foibles no matter his nationality. I highly recommend it.

  • Sharon
    2018-11-14 19:42

    Interesting perspective into contemporary Chinese culture through the perspective of Soyabean and Tofu.

  • Marta
    2018-11-07 23:28

    Questo romanzo è il dolcissimo racconto delle avventure di due micetti, Soia e Tofu, viste dal loro punto di vista.Già inizialmente ci troviamo di fronte a due realtà all'opposto nelle quali vivono i due gatti. Soia abita con la sua nai nai e mamma gatta, Tofu al contrario è una randagia e vive in un bidone della spazzatura insieme alla madre e i fratelli. Entrambi vengono adottati da Mr e Mrs A ed iniziano così a vivere una vita molto agiata essendo la famiglia ricca rispetto al resto della popolazione. I due sono molto diversi tra loro: Tofu è una gattina molto timida e timorosa, Soia invece è un gattone molto spavaldo ed esibizionista; nonostante le loro diversità con il passare dei giorni tra i due si creerà un rapporto molto speciale. La storia è ambientata a Pechino e sin da subito percepiamo la grande differenza della qualità della vita della maggior parte dei pechinesi che sono molto poveri e con pochi agi e quella invece dei waiguo ren, come vengono chiamati nel romanzo, ovvero gli stranieri come la famiglia adottiva. Attraverso le avventure dei due micetti ci verrà raccontata anche la realtà degli immigrati che lavorano instancabilmente senza riuscire ad ottenere una buona paga e un posto dignitoso in cui vivere e all'opposto quella di chi non si fa scrupoli a guadagnare a discapito degli altri . La storia essendo visto dal punto di vista dei gatti viene raccontata in modo innocente ed ingenuo, non risulta per nulla pesante ma anzi molto piacevole ed interessante soprattutto se si è amanti dei felini come la sottoscritta.

  • Susan
    2018-11-04 18:37

    Interesting story about Chinese politics and culture as they prepared for the Beijing Olympics from the point of view of two cats.

  • Geeky Bookers - Ilaria
    2018-11-13 02:14

    Questa storia racconta la storia di due gattini: il primo, Soia, nato da una famiglia "di razza" e ha un bel pelo fulvo, non gli manca il cibo, viene istruito dalla mamma sul quello che è il Mondo, ovvero il mondo degli umani e il suo sogno è quello di acchiappare una libellula. Tofu invece è una gattina nera, nata in un bidone da una famiglia di gatti randagi. I due gattini vengono adottati da due signori waiguo ren, ovvero stranieri e non cinesi. Soia viene ingaggiato per fare la pubblicità di un cibo per gatti e diventa una star: da questo momento inizieranno le avventure dei due micetti.Parto come al solito facendo una premessa personale: ho aspettato di leggere questo libro dal momento in cui è arrivato in libreria. Purtroppo il prezzo è proibitivo (14 € per meno di 200 pagine?! O.o), per cui nonostante tante volte fossi stata sul punto di acquistarlo sul sito di Libraccio, alla fine ho d/resistito e sono stata premiata: infatti la mia *bellissima* copia è arrivata direttamente da bookmooch. E io adoro questo libricino! *w* Comunque, leggendo le recensioni in giro ho visto che il libro viene definito una favola, un libro leggero, carino, e ha una media di 3 stelline su 5.Personalmente ritengo che sì, sia un libro leggero, carino e una favola, ma credo anche che trasmetta buoni insegnamenti (se avessi un fratellino/cuginetto o simile glielo leggerei subito!). La storia che viene raccontata non è solo quella di due gattini, ma è anche un'occhiata alla Cina (ma qualsiasi altro paese, anche il nostro!) nella sua versione più negativa: ci fa vedere il marcio. Gente senza scrupoli, avida, che vive di soli "agganci", che preferisce truffare e fare così soldi facili e veloci pur sapendo che qualcun altro ne soffrirà (o ne morirà come in questo caso), ma soprattutto la cosa che mi è rimasta impressa è il modo in cui l'autrice ha saputo parlare in maniera così semplice, lampante e diretta della povertà. Nella storia infatti, Soia è un gatto di "buona famiglia", mentre Tofu è una gattina che proviene da gatti randagi. Quest'ultima incontrerà un nongmin gong, ovvero un lavoratore immigrato dalle campagne spinto dalla povertà a lavorare in città, in particolare nel cantiere per la costruzione dello stadio che ospiterà i Giochi Olimpici di Pechino (ovvero quelle che ci sono state nel 2008).Il libro parlerà anche di gatti, ma li mette anche a confronto con l'uomo: Tofu li chiama i ren randagi, ovvero gli uomini che vivono come gatti randagi: di poco cibo e praticamente sopravvivendo. Mi rendo conto che non riesco a spiegar bene quello che vorrei, ma credetemi quando vi dico che è un libro da leggere e da rileggere una volta ogni tanto. Oltre a questo, nel libro si parla anche di ignoranza, allo stato puro: all'inizio del libro si parla del bing du, cioè una malattia che si sta propagando e si resta basiti nel constatare (ma poi neanche così tanto) che i cinesi del libro danno la colpa del virus ai gatti (ma anche ai cani e un po' a tutti gli animali che trovano in giro) e che compiano veri e propri "rapimenti" per ucciderli, cercando così, secondo loro, di debellare la malattia. Questa è stata una parte del libro che mi ha intristita e anche fatta arrabbiare: com'è che la colpa alla fine finisce sempre per essere data agli animali innocenti e che non si possono difendere?Tornando al libro... è scritto bene, si legge velocemente e con gusto, i personaggi "umani" sono presenti ma descritti non molto nel dettaglio (anzi!), ma capisco che l'autrice voleva focalizzare l'attenzione sui veri protagonisti della storia, ovvero i gatti. Soia è il classico micione rosso pieno di energia, allegro, fiducioso nei confronti della vita, un po' viziatello e paffuto, ma adorabile!!! *-* Lui è la star del libro, ma solo a livello televisivo e locale! ;) Infatti per me la vera star è lei, Tofu, la Batuffolina, come la chiama la sua... "padrona"? (passatemi il termine!), Mrs A.. Tofu è la piccola di casa, una micina tutto pepe che adora passare le giornate sull'albero del melograno, a riflettere, ha grande coraggio ed è molto intelligente, nonostante creda non lo sia, e dà quasi tutte le sue razioni di pappa al grassoccio Soia.Ormai lo sanno anche le pietre che io adoro i gatti, ma che i miei gatti "preferiti" sono i neri e rossi no! :D Adoro i piccoli Soia e Tofu! *^*Dunque, prima che il mio cervello vada in pappa, ecco a chi consiglio questo libro: a chi adora i gatti (ovvio!), a chi ha voglia di una storia leggera, carina, ma che fa anche riflettere e a chi ama gli scenari e le culture asiatiche.

  • Becky B
    2018-11-06 23:36

    Tofu and Soybean are two kittens adopted by a foreign couple living in Beijing in a year leading up to the Olympics. (The building of the Stadium comes into the story.) The story follows Tofu and Soybean for the first year of their lives and through their eyes readers get a feel for what life is like in Beijing for average citizens, the plight of migrant workers, the panic that can spread because of a virus in such a crowded city, and the consequences of corruption.This was a spur of the moment purchase at the bookstore. I'd never heard of it before, but I'm always on the lookout for Asian literature to add to the int'l school library I work in and this one seemed like it might be something approachable for multiple ages with a good peak at fairly recent modern China based on a brief skim in the store. It actually remained quite true to the flavor I got just from that skim. It seems to have been written for an adult audience and that's where the book store had it placed, but the vocabulary and content are suitable and approachable enough I can see several of our middle grade students enjoying this (of course, we have a lot of Asian students who are less likely to be phased by the Chinese vocabulary, so maybe that isn't the case for all schools). There isn't anything really forcefully driving the plot consistently, but mostly just little problems that tend to get resolved in a chapter or three, so pacing might be the only drawback for younger readers (well, and older readers too...that's mostly why I only gave it three stars). Overall, I though it was an interesting peak into typical life in urban China from the view point of two cats. And incidentally, Ms Aiyar knows cats. The personalities of Tofu and Soybean are so utterly true to feline quirkiness, there's no doubt she has spent some time with a cat or two.Notes on content: No language issues. No sexual content. The only violence really are some cat scratches and some rough handling of various pets by bad guys.

  • Diane
    2018-11-04 02:18

    I wasn't sure what to expect going into this novel other that knowing it was narrated by (2) cats who live in Beijing. I was thought might be a pleasant change from all the stories I've read that were told from a dog's perspective.The (2) cats are former strays who have lead very different lives prior to be adopted by a foreign couple who named them Soyabean and Tofu. Soyabean is a ginger-colored, handsome male -- picture future model for a pet food company. He grew up as a stray in a middle class area. Life on the street was easy for him compared to that of Tofu. Tofu, is a petite dark colored female. She was the only female in a litter of five and sadly had been a dust bin kitten. A kind old man fed her mama scraps of food and an occasional bowl of milk , but life on the streets was rough. Tofu's mom told her and her brothers that they were descended from royalty and that she had a wealthy life-style until the communist revolution changed things.Their new owners were kind to the two cats and fed them well, but suddenly their world changes when the SARS outbreak hits, and, the tainted pet food scandal makes it unsafe for cats to roam outdoors. Hysteria runs rampant and stray cats everywhere are being rounded up.In a nut shell, this book was just okay IMO. Told in alternating chapters from each cat's POV, I initially enjoyed the insight into the Chinese culture and beliefs. Some of the cats musings left me with something to thing about, however brief. Added to the book was a short glossary of Chinese words and their meanings which was a plus.The story seemed a bit strange overall, but in the end the cat's triumph.

  • Nagira
    2018-10-26 02:42

    This book was one of a few books that I finished in one run.I am a Chinese, with Mandarin as my mother-tongue and English as my second language. So, I tend to mix the two languages when I talked with family and friends.When reading this story, I had not expecting romanized Chinese vocabularies to be thrown in, it made all the conversation so normal and natural to me. I really enjoyed it, but I do wonder would it affect other readers who didn't know how to pronounce and/or understand what they meant at first, such as the widely-used Ren (human).The characters. Oh my. I adored them to bits. They reminded me of my own grandparents and all the friendly neighbors in the countryside. As well as the stories of their life, which was hard, especially when trying to make enough for the living for such a huge family.Tofu's appearance reminded me of a black, dustbin cat I had been feeding food to for a year. It had always been affectionate and even waited at the gate when I'm home. It was a lovely cat. Both Soyabean and Tofu made me love all the cats (pets and dustbin cats) in my neighborhood even more.To cut things short; I love the book. Not only some scenarios were close to home, but I also found the story easy to read, funny and even heartwarming. It might not have one of those at-the-edge-of-your-seat climax, but I found this story's flow to be my cup of tea. I would recommend this book to any cat lover who are looking for a relaxing, good read, through the perspective of two different cats.

  • Suzi
    2018-11-01 23:33

    A light read set over a period including the SARS outbreak and the clash over development of Beijing in preparation for the Olympics and rights of the little people. All told from the perspective of two cats.

  • Sara Solerosso
    2018-11-06 23:28

    Venivo da alcune letture pesanti motivo per cui ho apprezzato tantissimo questa storia. A dire il vero mi aspettavo quasi un racconto per bambini, invece, oltre alla godibilissima trama, ci sono ottimi spunti per riflessioni di carattere sociale come la povertà, lo sfruttamento ed i pregiudizi che troppo spesso affliggono le nostre società. Ovviamente da amante di gatti non ho potuto che adorare Soia, ma soprattutto l'introspettiva Tofu. Ovviamente il bene trionfa sempre, ma senza cadere nel finto buonismo, lascia intendere, infatti, che la vita é fatta anche di problemi non solo di lieti finali!

  • Victoria Law
    2018-10-27 19:24

    If you're looking for a novel that gives details of life in Beijing's hutongs, this isn't for you. But if you're looking for a whimsical read that is set in the hutongs (and/or love books from cats' point of view), then you might enjoy it. I was disappointed that there weren't more details of hutong life. But Aiyar does weave in some of the historical goings-on of 21st century Beijing--the hysteria around the SARS virus (I didn't know that some people blamed cats for it!), attitudes towards migrant workers and the building of the Olympic stadium. None of these are explored in details, perhaps because the narrators are cats.But the story itself is engaging and a fun read.

  • Erin
    2018-11-16 01:35

    I picked this up from the library due to my interest in everything Chinese. This was a really strange read. The main "characters" are two cats that grow up in very different environments in China. You do get a sense of daily life in China, but this is a strange way to get that glimpse. The writing was ok. I wish she had defined some of the Chinese words earlier for the reader. For instance "Ren" means people and she never really defines the word. Strange is probably the best way to describe this novel.

  • Danielle
    2018-10-29 22:26

    I had no idea that there were book written from a cat's perspective until my FIL came home one day and just handed me the book. He said "I read the description on the inside and I had to buy it." He said he was still in the middle of another book so I could go ahead and read it. Amazing! I loved it! I am a big cat person and I found it hilarious as well as touching. I teared up, I laughed, I got angry and I am recommending this book to all my cat-loving friends!

  • Kae Cheatham
    2018-10-24 02:30

    Very hard to choose stars for this. The view presented of Chinese society, the writing and character development were all good; but the characters were cats. I'm not fond of animal personification, and this book was no exception. Hence I think 2-stars but must credit the author for her writing expertise, which had me reading to the end, when I would have otherwise put the book down after the first few chapters. Cover art and illustrations are quite nice!

  • Whitney
    2018-11-16 22:43

    I like cats and I like books about other cultures, but this just didn't work for me. I can accept the telling of a story through the eyes of an animal, but these animals were a little TOO personified and it felt weird/creepy. I would definitely hand this book to a child in late elementary school/middle school because it is simple enough and it doesn't have any red flags, but I seriously can't imagine adults enjoying it.

  • Kari Ross
    2018-10-23 20:26

    This was a rather easy, light read. While there were definitely some heavier topics (SARS virus, the Olympic Games and use of low-wage labor, tainted pet food, racial privilege) and rather emotional points, the overall tone of the book was bright. The approach was rather creative, bringing a different perspective on the topics, however the author did anthropomorphize the animals almost to an extreme. Still highly enjoyable and a nice refreshing novel.

  • Annette
    2018-10-20 21:24

    I believe this should be juvenile fiction. 1) Viewing the world through the eyes of cats with human emotions and opinions is a little strange. 2) The human and animal rights dilemma in China has NOT improved since the building of the Olympic Village. Having a happy ending when there is no happy ending is a little tacky. I prefer historical fiction, or even fiction with a taste of history, to be generally accurate.

  • Niffer
    2018-10-31 18:18

    A nice little book about two young cats living with an expat couple in China. Althought it didn't really look like a children's book on the cover, the language and the story line was really more for a younger audience. The cats were fun, both with very different personalities and yet also very cat-like. The overall defeating of the "bad guys" was a fun little scene.Maybe more like 3.5 stars.

  • Mary Toelke
    2018-10-29 02:22

    Picked this up because of my interest in cats and China. It is a story narrated by two cats from different backgrounds. You do get a glimpse into the class system in China through their eyes and it was a pleasant enough read. However, I would have to agree with other reviewers that it is more suited to a younger audience--middle school, perhaps. It was worth my time, though.

  • Katharine
    2018-11-12 01:41

    I've never been an animal lover, much the less one of those people who suspends her disbelief so obligingly that she accepts that she's reading an interlocking series of short stories "written" by two inter-related Chinese hutong cats. And yet...I love the witty and clever way that these "cats" manage to reveal everyday aspects of Chinese society.

  • Roberta
    2018-11-10 00:25

    Una bella favola moderna con, sullo sfondo, la nuova e la vecchia Cina: gatti domestici e gatti randagi, umani benestanti e lavoratori trattati come animali, stranieri che cominciano ad inserirsi nella quotidianità cinese e nuovi ricchi, arrivisti e senza scrupoli.Viene mobilitato persino il primo ministro, ma solo dopo che un gatto sovrappeso ha scatenato una mezza rivoluzione.

  • Beth
    2018-11-02 20:19

    This simply told story is either charming or annoying, depending on whether the reader likes stories told from the point of view of young cats, and punctuation and word usage that is not quite correct English. I find the punctuation and usage annoying, but enjoy the cats. The plot is somewhat predictable, but this is a nice little book for cat lovers.

  • Lizzytish
    2018-11-05 18:39

    Something was missing from this story. I love cats. I love learning about other cultures. But..I can't put my finger on it. It was sweet, I did pick up some interesting tidbits about China during the time of the SARS scare. It could be shortened and made a kids' story maybe. I can see it as a picture book.

  • Kari
    2018-10-26 01:35

    Instead of a dog narrator - we have 2 cats from China during the animal-virus scare(s) epidemics. Soyabean and Tofu from totally different backgrounds end up exposing fraudulent cat food con-men who are more interested in profit than the ill-effects of their poisonous cat food. I look at my cats totally different now.

  • Dayle
    2018-10-31 00:25

    Great book for all ages! Told by two adopted cats (!) just prior to the Bejing olympics it gives a bit of insight into modern China from a local perspective..would be a great addition for any young readers.

  • Laura Shields
    2018-11-16 19:23

    This is definitely a cute book. It IS a book narrated by cats, its certainly no literary masterpiece thatll make you feel intense emotion, it was a rephreshing book for me, it was nice to read something simple and sweet instead of serious and emotional.

  • Jennifer Page
    2018-11-18 01:36

    A fast, easy, charming, and thought-provoking read. Set in modern-day Beijing, with all its human problems, but told from the perspective of two cats. You really come to care for the cats and their Ren (humans). Highly recommend for an entertaining and quick read.