Katie Kitamura and the Cognitive Dissonance of Being Alive Right Now

She has felt some of these quandaries herself over the past few years. While the world is on fire and the planet heats up, she has been r...


She has felt some of these quandaries herself over the past few years. While the world is on fire and the planet heats up, she has been rather happy in her comparatively tiny life, finding stability and raising two children with Kunzru. “Intimacies” is often reflective of this balancing act: the evil on trial and the banal bureaucracy that manages it, or the narrator’s desire to find security in a world seemingly streaked with malice.

Speaking of this, Kitamura returned to her father’s death. “It was very interesting to me how I could watch my father die and hold his hand as he died, and then a little bit later get up and go eat something,” she said.

“My God, there’s a part of me that thinks I have to stop writing about my dad dying,” she continued with a wry laugh, “because I can really see it all over the book.” “A Separation” was partly inspired by the harsh realization of her father’s waning days while she was in Greece, where the novel takes place. “Intimacies” begins in the wake of the protagonist’s father’s death.

Near the end of the book, the narrator walks to rolling dunes adjacent to the court and its cold detention center, and is struck by an odd feeling of familiarity. She finds out that she had been there before as a child, her late father having run up those same hills with her one weekend.

Kitamura herself had the same sensation: When she was in The Hague, she felt that twinge of familiarity, only to realize her parents had taken her there when she was young, and she had played at the dunes with her father.

“Rather than the kind of slightly untrammeled grief of ‘A Separation,’ I think there’s much more recuperation that is happening in this novel,” Kitamura said. Her emotional state processes slowly, she noted, and “as it manifests in fiction, it moves even slower.”

She still seemed to be connecting the dots. “Perhaps in the end,” she writes in the novel, “it was not something I could explain — the prospect that had briefly opened, the idea that the world might yet be formed or found again.”

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