Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fiction: Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura

Publisher: Free Press
Date: August 7, 2012
Format: paperback
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 194
Reading time: two days

From GoodReads: 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. 

My review: It took me a little while to get used to Kitamura's writing style, which is sparse and distant as well as rife with sentence fragments. The distance also made it difficult to connect emotionally with the characters; the story always seemed aloof from me as the reader. I figured out from the first couple of chapters that the majority of the book would be rather slow, not terribly interesting but picking up rather suddenly towards the end. I was right. The plot certainly becomes more engrossing as the novel heads toward its conclusion and the exploration of postcolonial issues becomes more clear. The country in which the book is set is unspecified, intentionally designed more as an anonymous hodgepodge of various locales and events. With this, by its ending the novel has become an intriguing examination of how one colonial family is falling apart as the landscape and community around it disintegrates into civil war.

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