Gone to the Forest
By Katie M. Kitamura
Free Press, Paperback, 9781451656640, 195pp.
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
List Price: $15.00*
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*San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012
*Financial Times Best Book of 2012
*New Yorker Best Book of 2012
FROM THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF THE LONGSHOT comes this gripping saga about the destruction of a family, a home, and a way of life. Set on a struggling farm in a colonial country teetering on the brink of civil war, Gone to the Forest is a tale of family drama and political turmoil in which fiery storytelling melds with daring, original prose. Since his mother’s death, Tom and his father have fashioned a strained domestic peace, where everything is frozen under the old man’s vicious control. But when a young woman named Carine arrives at the farm, the tension between the two men escalates to the breaking point. Hailed by the Boston Globe as “a major talent,” Kitamura shines in this powerful new novel.
“What Kitamura summons brilliantly is the sensation of a repressed and repressive society laid bare - erotically, psychologically and politically. She writes with equal authority about the weight of a man’s gaze on a disrobing woman and the sensation of being exposed by history’s glare … Gone to the Forest confirms Kitamura’s prodigious talent.”
“A startling, discomfiting work, written in razor-sharp prose. J.M. Coetzee’s work comes to mind, as does Michael Haneke’s, but there’s a sweet coldness here that is all Kitamura’s. This is her second novel, a brilliant book early in what will surely be a major career.”
“Hypnotic prose [with] flashes of unexpected beauty… so spare as to almost be incantatory… It marvelously suggests the chaotic, contradictory and highly changeable way the mind works…. Gone to the Forest, in just 200 pages, floats, unfolds and astonishes.”
— Marie Myung-Ok Lee, San Francisco Chronicle on Gone to the Forest
“Kitamura offers echoes of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace,coolly chronicling the family’s undoing as it tracks against the politicalturmoil ripping through the nation.”
—New York Times on Gone to the Forest
“A ruthless, controlled style distinguishes this novel about a man and his oppressive father in an unnamed colonial country that’s about to blow... [Kitamura’s] style reminds one of Marguerite Duras and Herta Müller—writers who have had to reckon with power in the colonial Indochina and the repressive Romania, respectively. Power is the subject, and the execution is precise.”
“Kitamura’s words are tough, and her characters are tied to the tails of wounded beasts: mother countries, the land itself, and hierarchies both out of steam and out of date... Kitamura makes the end of history—many histories—seem both casual and immediate.”
—Sasha Frere-Jones, NewYorker.com on Gone to the Forest
"Katie Kitamura expertly melds the personal and political in one of the year's most unforgettable novels."
—Largehearted Boy on Gone to the Forest
“Striking… Beautifully written… Kitamura’s carefully wrought characters are captivating.”
"Gone to the Forest is Katie Kitamura's second novel, about a family and the cost of European colonization in an unknown time and place... that recalls, at first and most often, J.M. Coetzee's South Africa. Kitamura writes with fine tension and clipped grace. Her observations are subtle and sharp. The volcano's importance in the story evokes Aime Cesaire's poem Corps Perdu, which begins, 'Moi, qui Krakatoa ...' and is a soaring command, in the wake of decolonization, for 'the islands to be.' [She is a] rising literary star."
“In this wondrous tale of both a family and a country’s dissolution, Kitamura brings readers into an unspecified time in an unnamed colonial country ... Kitamura, with spare, mesmerizing prose, paints a memorable vision of emotional chaos echoed by geologic and political turmoil.”
— Publishers Weekly, (starred review) on Gone to the Forest
“[Kitamura’s] unidentified place and time, and the actions and motivations of these three human cyphers, ensure that readers will be pondering Gone to the Forest long after they finish that final sentence.”
"The death-throes of a colonial world captured in dark, obsessive prose, punctuated by images of strange, surreal beauty: the falling ash, the river of dead fish. One thinks at times of both Coetzee and Gordimer, but Kitamura is very much her own writer, and makes you feel keenly the tragedy of her three lost souls."
— Salman Rushdieon Gone to the Forest
"A watchful and magnificent work. From the first page, Kitamura is in complete control, both of the prose and of the story it carries. She is a skilled hunter and we are her helpless prey."
-Teju Cole, author of Open City
"Gone to the Forest is a mesmerizing novel, one whose force builds inexorably as its story unfolds in daring, unexpected strokes. Kitamura’s prose brings to mind Cormac McCarthy or Jean Rhys, but the music of these lines is all her own—lyrical, sharp-edged, spare, and unafraid. Be warned: you’ll find yourself reading long past midnight, out of breath and wide awake. This is a bold and powerful book."
-Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge
“Katie Kitamura is a major talent. It is not often I read a book of controlled, illuminating, prose and it is even more rare that the story therein survives the style. I was reminded of the writings of Herta Müller and J.M. Coetzee, both important storytellers of our time and vanguards of form. Kitamura's spare, elegant and affecting work in Gone to the Forest brings the reader in and out of the nexus of three souls caught in a nameless land, in a nameless time, and gently observes as they try to give name to their relation to one another, to the land, to the times and to themselves. Gone to the Forest is a book of atmospheres and moods, details and desires and Kitamura handles the nuances with the grace and confidence of a writer beyond her years.”
-Laleh Khadivi, author of The Age of Orphans