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Intimacies (2021)

Tekijä: Katie Kitamura

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6334037,105 (3.7)72
Fiction. Literature. HTML: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
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englanti (39)  italia (1)  Kaikki kielet (40)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 40) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I expected more to happen in this book. Which is my fault, not the book’s. Which is the marketing’s fault actually—psychological thriller? Not really.

It’s a smart book about how much we can know about one another, about how much we can connect to one another, the lies we tell ourselves and others in order to connect and in order to remain apart, free. The book’s intelligence comes from the juxtaposition of the MC’s love life and her professional life as a translator for crimes against humanity legal proceedings at The Hague. Her empathy gets all scrambled in her work …and maybe in her love life. Women in particular are wired to connect, to relate deeply…and it can make the world confusing and dangerous.

So smart. A smart book. But the relationship at the heart of the novel is boring? And even though she knows she’s pathetic, she’s still pathetic?

No. That’s not it. I have no beef with women who knowingly make bad romantic choices…I just don’t really like the main character. She’s dull. That’s the thing. That’s the thing. Smart book, dull MC.

The NYT review says, “ Though the words “emotional labor,” “feminism” and “colonialism” never appear, it is still deeply engaged with these grand social issues, while it also makes subtle comments on everything from art to jealousy to gentrification.” And it’s true.

This is a smart book. I don’t think the novel agrees with the MC’s choice at the end. I don’t think it disagrees. I think the novel is wise: given our wiring to attach and connect and bond in a dangerous world, we do the best we can.

I just wish the MC had a little more zest. ( )
  wordlikeabell | May 12, 2024 |
[b:Intimacies|55918474|Intimacies|Katie Kitamura|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1605570704l/55918474._SX50_.jpg|87129689] is narrated by an interpreter working in the Court at The Hague. She tells us more of the back stories of her friends and lover than her somewhat mysterious self and the "strange intimacy" of her encounter with the accused former president of an unnamed African country in his cell or in the conference room with his lawyers. She translates from the French not his native Arabic, but he "sees" her in a way that frightens her as she ponders the power of language.
Another compelling thread of the book is her lover, Adriaan, who leaves her alone in his apartment for weeks while he goes to resolve his divorce with his wife in Lisbon. When will he return, or will he? Troubled by the adulterous affair of her friend Eline's bookseller brother who she espies in a restaurant, our unnamed heroine is uncertain of her own affair. She also questions her affinities with other people recently met in her move to Holland.
The book is well written in spare language and readable in short eventful chapters. I gobbled it up even though not entirely at ease with the ending.
Read Ron Charles review: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/katie-kitamura-intimacies-boo... ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
I like that Kitamura seems to tell us how to interpret this novel in the title she gives it. Granted, it’s not an always foolproof measure (the first blurb on the back of the hardcover states confidently that it is “a novel about the ruthlessness of power…”, which, no its not) but I think here it accurately lets the reader know that the novelist’s primary concern in the work is to do with intimacy and intimacies.

When you think of “intimacy” a relationship with physical geography probably isn’t what first springs to mind, though given how basic and integral the idea of “home” is to identity for many of us, I can see it being a base for other intimacies. The novel begins with this intimacy - our narrator has left New York, where her immigrant family had lived and which she lacked a connection with - and moved to The Hague, where she wonders “if I could be more than a visitor here.” Unaware of it, a late reveal shows that she has an early and intimate connection with the city, which subconsciously may have helped direct her there, early roots producing a shoot.

Interpersonal intimacies are presented in varying forms. Friendship and romantic love, of course, are craved by almost all of us, including the narrator. These pass by mostly uninterestingly in my reading here. Sometimes you accidentally become party to a stranger’s as you go about town on your own business: “On occasion, I found myself stumbling into situations more intimate than I would have liked…”

More interesting is the presentation of intentionally forced intimacy. A strong passage in the novel relates to Judith Leyster’s 1631 painting “Man Offering Money to a Young Woman”, in which there are two figures in a candlelit room, a man leaning down over a seated woman who is working on a handicraft and staring straight down, while he holds out money in one hand and pulls on her with the other. The intimate closeness he forces on her is most unwelcome. In parallel there is a man whose attentions towards the narrator are also trying to force an unwanted intimacy, and who has financial power over her.

Then most interestingly there is conflicted intimacy, compromising intimacy, that our narrator is led into through her work. Shades of grey are always the most interesting, eh? Working as a translator at the International Criminal Court she provides undoubtedly necessary and useful services in translating court and lawyer’s proceedings for defendants charged with murder on a statecraft scale. But by necessity providing services for one person brings you into a sort of intimate relationship with them. You are there for that one person’s benefit. Speaking to them. Even whispering quietly into their ear while seated next to them.

About halfway into the novel (unfortunately not sooner!) this mostly comes into play when the narrator becomes interpreter for an ex-President of an African nation charged with atrocities committed while trying to hang onto power:

I was close enough to observe the texture of his skin, the particularities of his features, I could smell the scent of the soap he must have used that morning.
[…]
I sometimes had the unpleasant sensation that of all the people in the room below, of all the people in the city itself, the former president was the person I knew best. In those moments, out of what I can only describe as an excess of imagination, he became the person whose perspective I occupied. I flinched when the proceedings seemed to go against him. I felt quiet relief when they moved in his direction. It was disquieting in the extreme, like being placed inside a body I had no desire to occupy. I was repulsed, to find myself so permeable.


“I was repulsed to find myself so permeable.” It’s a fascinating insight. How solid are our own selves, and how much altered could they be by the intimacies we inhabit, voluntarily or not, positive or not. I only wish the novel had spent much more time on this question, and cut out other parts of the novel, unmentioned here, that I don’t feel contribute much to it. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
The character descriptions were kind of long to the point where I couldn't just breeze through the book. I like the idea and the topic was new to me. ( )
  brozic | Jan 27, 2024 |
Very nice. A very good book. Interesting subjects, moving depiction of a certain alienation and quiet search for belonging. A lovely ending that feels right. There can be no intimacy in a world committed to…the neutrality of professionalism.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 40) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Trasferirsi in un paese nuovo non è mai semplice, ma a dire la verità ero felice di aver lasciato New York.
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Quasi tutti miei colleghi avevano vissuto in vari paesi ed erano cosmopoliti di natura, la loro identità inscindibile dalle loro risorse linguistiche. Io non ero molto diversa. Ero fluente in inglese e giapponese per nascita, grazie ai miei genitori, e in francese grazie all'infanzia trascorsa a Parigi.
[...] Ma la fluidità era soltanto la base di qualsiasi lavoro d'interpretariato, che richiedeva soprattutto un'estrema precisione, e spesso pensavo che a rendermi una brava interprete fosse la mia naturale inclinazione verso quest'ultima, più che un talento per le lingue. In un contesto legale la precisione era ancora più importante, e dopo una settimana di lavoro alla Corte devo imparato il suo vocabolario al tempo stesso specifico e arcano, con terminologia ufficiale fissata per ogni lingua e scrupolosamente osservata da tutti gli interpreti. Il motivo era ovvio: tra le nostre parole, o tra due o più lingue, sono in agguato voragini che possono spalancarsi senza preavviso.
In quanto interpreti, il nostro compito era gettare ponti attraverso le voragini. Questa navigazione - che oltre all'accuratezza richiedeva un certo grado di innata spontaneità, perché a volte bisognava improvvisare per aggirare una frase sconosciuta o intraducibile, in perenne lotta con l'orologio - era più importante di quanto potesse apparire.
[...]Chi andava alla sbarra presentava vari tipi di immagine: le testimonianze venivano pesantemente plasmate sia dalla difesa sia dall'accusa, le persone condotte davanti alla Corte per interpretare un ruolo. La Corte funzionava in base alla sospensione dell'incredulità: in aula, tutti sapevano e al contempo ignoravano che i testimoni erano preparati, che c'era un bel po' di artificio introno a questioni basate sull'autenticità.
Era in gioco nientemeno che la sofferenza di milioni di persone, e davanti alla sofferenza non si poteva parlare di messinscena. Eppure, la Corte era per natura un luogo di grande teatralità. Non solo nelle testimonianze accuratamente forgiate delle vittime. [...] Anche gli imputati - capi militari e politici - erano spesso personaggi pomposi, arroganti e insieme autocommiserativi, gente abituata a stare su un palco e ad ascoltare il suono della propria voce. Gli interpreti non potevano rifuggire del tutto quel teatro, il nostro lavoro non consisteva solo nel tradurre le parole pronunciate dal soggetto, ma anche nel rendere l'atteggiamento, le sfumature e le intenzioni sottostanti.
[...]L'accuratezza linguistica non bastava. L'interpretariato era una questione di enorme sottigliezza, un termine dalle molte sfumature: anche un attore interpreta un ruolo, e un musicista interpreta un pezzo musicale.
C'era un certo grado di tensione intrinseco alla Corte e alle sue attività, una contraddizione tra la natura intima del dolore e l'arena pubblica in cui veniva sbandierato.Un processo er un completo insieme di performance che ci coinvolgeva tutti, nessuno escluso. Un interprete non doveva solo dichiarare o tradurre, ma anche ripetere l'indicibile. Forse er quella, la vera ansia che aleggiava nella Corte e tra i miei colleghi. Il fatto che la nostra attività quotidiana dipendesse dalla continua descrizione - descrizione, elaborazione e precisazione - di faccende che, fuori dalla Corte, erano in genere soggette a eufemismi ed elisioni.
I luoghi hanno un che di bizzarro quando se ne capisce la lingua solo in parte, e in quei primi mesi la sensazione era stata particolarmente strana. All'inizio brancolavo nel buio, i discorsi introno a me erano impenetrabili, ma tutto era diventato meno sfuggente quando avevo cominciato a capire le singole parole, poi le frasi e adesso perfino interi brani di conversazione, certe volte mi imbattevo in situazioni più private di quanto avrei voluto, la città non era più il luogo innocente che era sta al mio arrivo.
Era facile scordarsi che L'Aja si trova sul mare del Nord, per tanti è una città che sembra affacciarsi verso l'interno, dando le spalle alla distesa d'acqua.
[L'imputato] Era un ex capo milizia ancora giovane, con un abito costoso, stravaccato su una sedia ergonomica tra i vari giudici e avvocati. Era sotto processo per crimini orrendi, eppure in aula aveva sempre l'aria imbronciata e forse un poi annoiata. Certo, gli imputati sono speso ben vestiti e seduti su sedie da ufficio; la differenza sta nel fatto che alla Corte gli imputati non erano semplici criminali abbigliati per l'occasione, ma uomini che avevano a lungo indossato il mantello dell'autorità trasmesso da un completo o da un'uniforme, uomini abituati al potere che ne derivava.
[...] Gli imputati, quindi, arrivavano, all'Aja circondati da una certa aura, avevamo sentito un gran parlare di questi uomini (perché erano quasi sempre uomini), avevamo visto fotografie e video, e quando finalmente si presentavano alla Corte erano le star dello spettacolo, non c'era altro modo di dirlo, la situazione era un palcoscenico per loro carisma.
Tutti hanno diritto a una giusta rappresentanza legale, anche chi ha commesso crimini indicibili, oltre ogni immaginazione, crimini che a sentire descrivere ti verrebbe voglia di tapparti le orecchie e correre via. L'avvocato difensore non può cedere a una simile vigliaccheria, deve non solo ascoltare, ma studiare con attenzione la storia di quei crimini, viverne e respirarne l'atmosfera. Quello che il resto di noi non è in grado di sopportare è proprio ciò in cui l'avvocato difensore deve immergersi.
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Fiction. Literature. HTML: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

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