Published: 16 March, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
HOMELESS magazine seller James Bowen and his cat Bob become overnight stars this week as hundreds lined up to buy a new book about the pair.
Customers queued for up to 20 minutes on Tuesday night outside Waterstones bookshop at Angel, where author James was signing copies amid scenes not experienced since the last Harry Potter.
The book, A Street Cat Named Bob, is the true story of how lonely down-at-heel Big Issue seller James transformed his life after befriending a stray cat.
Bob is no ordinary cat. He’s intelligent and such is his devotion to James he travels everywhere with him, often on his shoulders.
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, the book came about after literary agent Mary Pacnos, who lives locally, read an article about the amazing friendship in the Tribune two years ago.
This week James, 31, from Tottenham, signed copies of the book for almost an hour, as Bob sat dutifully opposite on the desk, totally relaxed and unfazed by the attention.
James said: “I never expected so many people would want to read my story. I’m completely overwhelmed.”
He added that he did not expect the book to turn him into a millionaire. “You don’t make huge amounts of money with books these days,” he said. “But I will be able to reduce the days when I need to go out and sell the Big Issue.”
American-born Ms Pacnos has had huge success with the book Marley and Me, about the world’s worst dog, which later became a film.
She said she first saw James and Bob outside Angel Tube station and then read the article in the Tribune. “I thought I’d better get my skates on and publish them before someone else did,” she said. “There are a lot of agents and publishers in Islington.
“The book has already been sold in seven countries. Judging by the enormous interest I think it is really going to take off. When the Americans notice it we won’t know what’s hit us.”
What attracted her to the story? “It’s about love and redemption with lots of humour,” she said. “A young man is living on his own with very little to show for himself when suddenly his life is transformed by a loving and loyal friend.”
A Street Cat Named Bob (How one man and his cat found hope on the streets) by James Bowen is available at Waterstones at Islington Green, price £14.99.