Kitamura ’99 explores a family saga in a colonial time

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Katie Kitamura ’99 (Photo: Hari Kunzru)

New book: Gone to the Forest, by Katie Kitamura ’99 (Free Press)

 
The author: Katie Kitamura’s first novel, The Longshot, described the brutal world of mixed martial arts, known as “ultimate fighting,” and was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, and The Guardian. She is a regular contributor to Frieze.
 
The book: The story is set in the 20th century in an unnamed colonial country. Tom, whose mother has died, and his controlling father live on the family farm with servants. When Carine, a young woman, arrives, she is caught between father and son. The story explores family tension and the political situation of a country close to civil war. Kitamura said in a press release that she wanted to examine the legacy of colonialism and “the exclusion of women from a predominantly male world.”
 

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Opening lines: “Tom hears the noise from across the hall. A quick stream of native patois. At first he thinks it is the servants talking. But then he hears the crack of static. The high cadence of a bugle. The voice picks up again and is louder. Agitated and declaiming.”
 
Review: The novel, wrote a critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, “floats, unfolds and astonishes.” “The eventual collision between the revolutionary group that calls itself the Oath Takers and the white settlers provides the arc of the plot, while the domestic drama inside the house — how will Tom deal with the odd, simmering triangulation between himself, his father, and Carine — seems that it will flare into its own spasm of violence. In the space between the domestic and outside spheres lie the servants — whose side will they take, both in the father-son confrontation and in the revolution?”
 
Read more: PAW’s article on Kitamura and her first novel in the Nov. 18, 2009 issue.