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Intimacies
Cover of Intimacies
Intimacies
A Novel
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A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION


ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE 2021 READS

AN 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 Times


A 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.
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION


ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE 2021 READS

AN 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 Times


A 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.
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  • From the cover

    1.


    It is never easy to move to a new country, but in truth I was happy to be away from New York. That city had become disorienting to me, after my father's death and my mother's sudden retreat to Singapore. For the first time, I understood how much my parents had anchored me to this place none of us were from. It was my father's long illness that had kept me there, and with its unhappy resolution I was suddenly free to go. I applied for the position of staff interpreter at the Court on impulse, but once I had accepted the job and moved to The Hague, I realized that I had no intention of returning to New York, I no longer knew how to be at home there.


    I arrived in The Hague with a one-year contract at the Court and very little else. In those early days when the city was a stranger to me, I rode the tram without purpose and walked for hours at a time, so that I would sometimes become lost and need to consult the map on my phone. The Hague bore a family resemblance to the European cities in which I had spent long stretches of my life, and perhaps for this reason I was surprised by how easily and frequently I lost my bearings. In those moments, when the familiarity of the streets gave way to confusion, I would wonder if I could be more than a visitor here.

    Still, as I traversed the roads and neighborhoods, I had a renewed sense of possibility. I had lived with my slow-moving grief for so long that I had ceased to notice it, or recognize how it blunted my feeling. But now it began to lift. A space opened up. As the days passed I felt that I had been right to leave New York, although I didn't know if I'd been right to come to The Hague. I saw the details of the landscape in high and sometimes startling relief-because the place was not yet worn down by acquaintance or distorted by memory, and because I had begun looking for something, although I didn't know exactly what.

    It was around then that I met Jana, through a mutual acquaintance in London. Jana had moved to the Netherlands two years earlier than me, for her job as a curator at the Mauritshuis-the housekeeper of a national gallery, she called the position with a wry shrug. Her character was the opposite of mine, she was almost compulsively open whereas I had grown guarded in recent years-my father's illness had served as a quiet warning against too much hope. She entered my life at a moment when I was more than usually susceptible to the promise of intimacy. I felt a cool relief in her garrulous company, and I thought in our differences we achieved a kind of equilibrium.


    Jana and I frequently had dinner together, and that night she had offered to cook, she said she was too tired to eat in a restaurant and it would save us both money, there was the matter of her new and not inconsiderable mortgage. Jana had recently purchased an apartment close to the old train station, and had been urging me to move to the area when the lease on my short-term rental ran out. She had taken to sending me listings, assuring me the neighborhood had much to offer, among other things it was well served for transport, in fact her commute was now easier, a direct tram ride rather than a transfer.

    As I walked from the tram stop to her apartment, broken glass crunched underfoot. Jana's building, a modest structure lined with balconies, was wedged between a public housing block and a new condominium of steel and glass, two aspects of a rapidly changing neighborhood. I rang the intercom and she buzzed me in without a word. She opened her door before I was able to knock, things at work were a nightmare, she announced without preamble, she hadn't moved from...

About the Author-
  • Katie Kitamura's most recent novel, A Separation, was a finalist for the Premio Gregor von Rezzori and a New York Times Notable Book. It was named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications and translated into sixteen languages, and is being adapted for film. Her two previous novels, Gone to the Forest and The Longshot, were both finalists for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award. A recipient of fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and Santa Maddalena Foundation, Katie has written for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Granta, BOMB Magazine, Triple Canopy, and Frieze. She teaches in the creative writing program at New York University.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 10, 2021
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Traci Kato-Kiriyama provides the voice of an interpreter who moves from New York City to the Netherlands to work at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Cerebral and comfortably paced, Kato-Kiriyama's narration captures a serious protagonist. With little variation in emotional expression, Kato-Kiriyama describes the woman's relationship with her lover, Adriaan, who is separated from his wife but still enmeshed; her experience interpreting for a high-profile case involving a magnetic president who is accused of war crimes; and her growing interest in a crime that her friend witnessed. The narration is spare, perhaps with the intention of emphasizing the protagonist's introverted demeanor and internal world as she deals with stressful events in both her professional and personal lives. S.E.G. � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine
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A Novel
Katie Kitamura
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