BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura

Gone to the ForestSpare, lean, restrained, dare I say … ruthless? In her concision, yes. Katie Kitamura knows how to make each word count: “The old man lies on the bed and more than ever he secretes the toxic charisma of the dying.” Tell me that’s not a perfectly restrained, yet startlingly fecund compilation of words.

Such moments of literary awe are many despite the fact that, like her debut, The Longshot, Kitamura’s latest is also not quite 200 pages. Again, like LongshotForest was honored as a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award (2013) and appeared on many of the ‘Best of’-lists for 2012. Clearly, she’s a formidable contender not to be ignored.

In an unnamed colonized nation preparing to overthrow its oppressors, Kitamura lays bare the final dissolution of a widowed father and his only son. “[A]ll Tom wanted was the old man’s approval” – he who arrived 40 years ago among the first white settlers and built a sprawling farm – but the impending end of their relationship, of their lives as they have known it, remains bitter, desperate, tragic.

The father invites a young woman to move in, apparently intended to be Tom’s wife, yet claims her for his own bed with disastrous consequences. When he falls gravely ill, Tom remains truculently determined to keep the withering old man alive while safety and comforts disappear all around them.

If you choose to go audible, rest assured each page is crisply narrated by Paul Boehmer; the less-than-six hours is a taut thrill that resonates long after the final track. Focused and riveting, Forest reads like a modern fable, its brevity belying multiple layers seeped in historic colonialism, timeless betrayals, and the complicated dynamics of fathers and sons.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012


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