Mr Kato Plays Family: A Novel (Hardcover)
Mr Katō is a recently retired crank who spends his daily walks stewing on all the ways his family, friends, and career failed to live up to his expectations. A chance encounter sets him outside of his comfort zone and ultimately forces him to reconsider those relationships, showing us that it’s never too late to find meaning in life. For fans of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, but with the weird charm of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman.— Timothy, Wild Rumpus
Milena Michiko Flašar's Mr Katō Plays Family is an eccentric second-lease-on-life novel for fans of A Man Called Ove and Beautiful World, Where Are You.
Mr Katō—a curmudgeon and recent retiree—finds his only solace during his daily walks, where he wonders how his life went wrong and daydreams about getting a dog (which his wife won’t allow). During one of these walks, he is approached by a young woman. She calls herself Mie, and invites him to join her business Happy Family, where employees act as part-time relatives or acquaintances for clients in need, for whatever reason, if only for a day.
At first reluctant, but then intrigued, he takes the job without telling his wife or adult children. Through the many roles he takes on, Mr Katō rediscovers the excitement and spontaneity of life, and re-examines his role in his own family. Using lessons learned with his “play families,” he strives to reconnect with his loved ones, to become the father and husband they deserve, and to live the life he’s always wanted.
MILENA MICHIKO FLAŠAR was born in 1980, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an Austrian father. Her 2012 novel, I Called Him Necktie, was a bestseller in Austria, won both the Alpha Literary Prize and the Euregio Pupils’ Literature Prize, and was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award. In 2017, Flašar won the Niederösterreich Cultural Prize in Literature. She studied comparative literature at the University of Vienna, and currently is the literary fellow with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture.
CAROLINE FROH translates from German, with a fondness for Swiss-German prose. She holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, where she was also a Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer.
“What an extraordinary novel this is! Who wouldn't want to read about someone invited to slip into other personas? But there is so much more here. The book is utterly original, beguiling, and truthful in the deepest sense of the word. By turns playful, humorous and poignant, this book invites underlining so that a reader may return again and again to certain lines or scenes. I absolutely loved it.”
—Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Truluv
“In an atomized society where we feel increasingly distant and isolated from one another, a chance encounter helps a lost retiree keep from retreating. Mr. Kato Plays Family is an elegant ode to the fragile connections that heal us and help us forgive those we love the most.”
—Marjan Kamali, National bestselling author of The Stationary Shop
“A fascinating intrigue and a warmhearted book about life, and what you can do to improve it.”
—Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, international bestselling author of The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules
“Flašar, an acclaimed author of German and Japanese descent, presents the tender story of a man who must reinvent himself after retirement....Readers will float along with the bemused Mr Katō through the dreamlike prose.”