Katie Kitamura translates to Untranslable

Reading can also be a deeply interpretive task, and a novel like this gives the reader plenty to work with, raising a chorus of harmonic questions rather than squeezing a single answer. Contemporary American fiction also often provides pre-resolved moral questions and obvious enemies in the service of our cultural longing for moral perfection—the right words, the right behavior, the one and righteous position on myriad complex issues.

Kitamura works outside of this trendy literalism, knowing, as the best writers do, that a story’s explicit theme does not set its conceptual limits; Plot summary will do this book no justice. Although the terms “emotional labor,” “feminism” and “colonialism” never appear, it is deeply attuned to these grand social issues, while it makes subtle commentary on everything from art to jealousy to gentrification. .

Nevertheless – a rude reader might note the male object of affection and assume that the story is about a single woman seeking love, simply because the narrator is a bit directionless and waiting for her Dutchman to come home. is. It’s true that “Intimacy”, like Kitamura’s previous and equally entertaining “A Separation”, examines the insights of the people we love, depend on, and sleep next to. Yet Kitamura examines these relationships as a lens for the larger points, and not as an end in itself. The way a life cuts across the world seems to be of greatest importance in the effect it has on others.

“The interpretation can be deeply disturbing,” reflects the narrator, “you can become so caught up in the subtleties of the act, that in trying to maintain an excessive allegiance to the words spoken first by the subject and then by himself. , that you don’t necessarily understand the meaning of sentences yourself: you don’t really know what you’re saying. Language loses its meaning.”

This disorientation may sound familiar: at a time when so many intimations have been forced or closed by quarantine, this novel is great. The breath itself, that intimate air, has united our world in death and fear. Even global events – a pandemic, a protest, a war – arise first in the delicate space between people.

The sinner on trial is “petty and vain but he understands the depth of human behavior. Where ordinary people don’t go. This gives him a lot of power, even when he is confined to a cell.” Kitamura’s work also includes a deep understanding of human behavior, which reaches far beyond the pages of this concise and arresting book; She travels to places that ordinary writers cannot go to.

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