Varjak Paw

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Varjak Paw
Varjak Paw.jpg
First edition
AuthorS. F. Said
IllustratorDave McKean
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreFantasy, Adventure
PublisherDavid Fickling Books
Publication date
1 January 2003
Media typehardback
ISBN0-385-60415-7 (hardback)
ISBN 0-552-54818-9 (paperback)
LC ClassPZ7.S1315 Var 2003
Followed byThe Outlaw Varjak 

Varjak Paw (2003) is a novel by the British author S. F. Said and illustrated by Dave McKean.[1] The illustrations in this book have a dark "gothic" quality. The novel received the 2003 Smarties Gold Award for the 6–8 years range[2] and has been adapted for other media.


  • Varjak Paw, a very young kitten and the main protagonist of the story
  • Jalal the Paw, A Mesopotamian blue cat who ventured out into the Outside and found a home with the Countessa.
  • Elder Paw, Varjak's grandfather and one of the few who remembers (part of) The Way of Jalal
  • Sally Bones, the mysterious white cat who lords over the West Side of the city. She knows "The Way"
  • Razor, Sally Bones' lieutenant
  • Ginger, the ruler of the East Side of the city
  • The Contessa, The old woman who owns the family of Jalal
  • The Gentleman, a mysterious man who appears one day at the Contessa's house
  • The Black Cats, two black cats that accompany The Gentleman; perfect fighting machines that are almost invulnerable
  • Cludge, a dog who Varjak meets and who saves him from the Gentleman
  • Julius Paw, Varjak's older brother
  • Father, Son of Elder Paw, Father of Jay, Jerome, Jethro, Julius, and Varjak
  • Aunt Juni, Mother to Jasmine, Aunt to Jay, Jethro, Jerome, Julius, and Varjak
  • Mother, Mother of Jay, Jethro, Jerome, Julius, and Varjak
  • Holly, Varjak's future mate.
  • Tam, a tabby cat and Holly, and Varjak's best friend

Varjak Paw's name is an allusion to the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. In the film, one of the main characters, Paul Varjak, has written a book called "Nine Lives". When he and another character look for the book in the library catalog, it is listed as "Nine Lives by Varjak, Paul". S.F. Said is not known to have commented on this connection.



In October 2013, Playbox Theatre Company took on Varjak Paw in a major multi-media production.[3]


In 2010, composer Julian Philips completed an opera on Varjak Paw, to a libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, performed by The Opera Group in September–November.[4][5]


As of March 2006, Varjak Paw has been optioned by The Jim Henson Company to be developed as an animated family feature film, with Faith Fawusi as director.[6]


  1. ^ "Varjak Paw". Fantastic Fiction. Archived from the original on March 31, 2010.
  2. ^ "Smarties Book Prize winners 2003". CBBC Newsround. December 1, 2003.
  3. ^ "History". Playbox Theatre. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013.
  4. ^ Dammann, Guy (September 29, 2008). "Varjak Paw". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "Varjak Paw". The Opera Group. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013.
  6. ^ "Henson plans 'Varjak Paw' animated film". Muppet Central News. March 26, 2006.

External links[edit]