BOOKS / In the Lists

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The Independent Culture
What is it about cats that makes otherwise sane adults go all gooey? The feline characters in Akif Pirincci's detective novel Felidae (Fourth Estate pounds 4.99) may not be the cuddly, fluffy sort, but they certainly inspire an

almost incredible degree of devotion. Translated from the German into 18 languages, the book has sold more than a million copies since its first publication in 1989. Pirincci, originally from Turkey, says that the Germans like it because they prefer their pets to each other. It's hard to know whether the same is is true of other nationalities, but the cats in Felidae certainly value their own species more than humans, who are relegated to the despised role of 'tin-opener'. Pirincci's furry friends do all sorts of genuinely catty things like catching rats, but their tastes, which include

listening to Mahler and playing with computers, are anthropomorphic. His hero, a super-sleuth cat called Francis, combines the attributes of James Bond and Inspector Morse; his villain is a feline serial killer who gets his claws into randy toms as they stalk females on heat. Most disturbing, though, is Pirincci's self-analysis: 'I see myself as part-animal . . . I notice it all the time - like when I see a beautiful woman walking down the street.

My reaction tells me there's only a thin veneer of humanity in me.'