Intimacies

Katie M. Kitamura

Book - 2021

"A novel from the author of A Separation, a taut and electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths. An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home. She's drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a ...crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim's sister. And she's pulled into explosive political fires: her work interpreting for a former president accused of war crimes becomes precarious as their relationship is unbound by shifting language and meaning. This woman is the voice in the ear of many, but what command does that give her, and how vulnerable does that leave her? Her coolly impassioned views on power, love, and violence, are tested, both in her personal intimacies and in her role at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her; it is her drive towards truth, and love, that throws into stark relief what she wants from her life"--

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Subjects
Genres
Novels
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2021.
Language
English
Physical Description
225 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780399576164
0399576169
Main Author
Katie M. Kitamura (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* New to The Hague, an unnamed interpreter works in the International Court, her job "to ensure that there would be no escape route between languages." Describing herself as "guarded," she has one close friend and dates Adriaan, who's in a protracted separation from his wife and children. The day before his departure, Adriaan informs the interpreter that he must visit his family in Lisbon and will be gone for a week, maybe more. As a week becomes a month and his communication with her wanes, she's assigned the high-profile case of a former president accused of election tampering and ethnic cleansing. The defense team for the accused, inured by now to descriptions of his crimes, in addition to requiring her interpretation skills, exploits her emotions as a barometer for the court's reaction to them. Like her protagonist, Kitamura (A Separation, 2017) is a master of precisely evocative language. In her work and in her isolation, the interpreter recognizes how familiarity can obscure intimacy, while its lack can yet lead to discomfiting proximity. The novel takes place so deeply within her that it's truly personlike, at once forthright and mysterious, a piercing and propulsive meditation on closeness of many sorts. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Fleeing New York for an interpreter's job at The Hague brings little relief to the woman at the center of this new work by two-time NYPL Young Lions finalist Kitamura. Tangled up with a lover who's still tangled up with his wife, the woman has become close to the sister of a crime victim, and she finds that interpreting for an accused war criminal only adds to her stress. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Kitamura's fourth novel, about a professional translator living in The Hague and dealing with personal and professional crises, makes for a tidy dyad with her previous book, A Separation. Both are deeply interior novels about women working their way through periods of displacement and reckoning with the fundamental mystery of ever truly knowing another person. Indeed, the titles of these two works could be fairly easily swapped, so similar are Kitamura's preoccupations. Like A Separation, this novel is haunted by specters of violence and doubt, tension built from its cerebral narrator's ruminations and observations. The action remains largely mundane by design, but Kitamura's way with character often inflects even that with a sheen of dread. Indeed, in many ways Kitamura emulates the tenor of any number of best-selling thrillers—peripheral characters are suspect, motivations are occluded, etc.—but her spare prose and refusal to ever offer summary conclusions keeps things all the more mysterious. Various narrative threads are woven, but they never web into any settled understanding; the author's tilt toward the existential peril of unknowing is fundamental to her sense of story. VERDICT Few things are more intimate (and terrifying) than the act of being in the world, and Kitamura's evocative interrogation of our ability to know ourselves and others is reinforced by the strength of her spare, haunting prose.—Luke Gorham, Galesburg P.L., IL Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Kitamura's plodding latest (after A Separation) follows a group of jet-setting young professionals in The Hague, where a translator finds herself enmeshed in the private lives of her colleagues. There's something vaguely unseemly about the unnamed translator's married suitor, Adriaan, as well as other characters, including her boss in Language Services, the preppy curator she house-sits for, and a book dealer who is mugged during a recent wave of violence. But it's hard to discern what anybody is actually up to. Meanwhile, in the courts, the translator is entrusted with the cases of a recently extradited jihadist and a well-heeled former president of a West African country on trial for war crimes, with whom she must match wits. There are, unfortunately, plenty of unused opportunities for deeper character development; Adriaan in particular is built up as a nemesis, but he does little more than preen, while even less can be said of the various other dilettantes and sexual rivals. Subtle to a fault, this adds up to very little outside of a plethora of dinner scenes and undeveloped subplots, while the translator simply drifts through a Henry James–style chronicle of life abroad. Kitamura is a talented writer, but this one disappoints. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A novel from the author of A Separation, a taut and electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths. An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home. She's drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim's sister. And she's pulled into explosive political fires: her work interpreting for a former president accused of war crimes becomes precarious as their relationship is unbound by shiftinglanguage and meaning. This woman is the voice in the ear of many, but what command does that give her, and how vulnerable does that leave her? Her coolly impassioned views on power, love, and violence, are tested, both in her personal intimacies and in her role at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her; it is her drive towards truth, and love, that throws into stark relief what she wants from her life"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Seeking a fresh start an interpreter takes a position at the International Court at The Hague and is drawn into numerous personal dramas, including her lover’s ongoing entanglement in his marriage and her friend witnessing a random act of violence.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2021LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTIONONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE 2021 READSAN INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER A BEST BOOK OF 2021 FROM Washington Post, Vogue, Time, Oprah Daily, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlantic, Kirkus and Entertainment Weekly“Intimacies is a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller…. Katie Kitamura is a wonder.” —Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward and Eat the Document“One of the best novels I’ve read in 2021.” – Dwight Garner, The New York TimesA novel from the author of A Separation, an electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths.An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home. She's drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim's sister. And she's pulled into an explosive political controversy when she’s asked to interpret for a former president accused of war crimes. A woman of quiet passion, she confronts power, love, and violence, both in her personal intimacies and in her work at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her, forcing her to decide what she wants from her life.