Slow Burn: Katie Kitamura's 'A Separation'
When Katie Kitamura’s novel, A Separation, was heralded as a “literary Gone Girl,” I purchased it without hesitation. Upon completion of the book, I feel it is my duty to inform future readers that this description is entirely inaccurate. Regardless, the book is worth a read. Different from Gone Girl in almost every way possible, Kitamura’s slim volume is a slow burn, one that doesn’t end with a jaw-dropping climax and shocking resolution. Reminiscent of one of my favorite 2015 reads, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, A Separation is an excellent atmospheric and beautifully written novel, written at a pace that mimics real-life, a welcome change from the suspense-packed, far-fetched thrillers that populate the better part of today’s bookstore shelves.
The nameless narrator is a translator by trade, living in London with a new man following the disintegration of her marriage. When her ex-mother-in-law, Isabella, a cold, intimidating high-class Englishwoman with no idea the marriage is over, calls her in an uncharacteristic panic, she is certain something is wrong. Her ex, Christopher, a mildly popular author, has gone missing in Greece while conducting research for his forthcoming book. Our narrator sets off to search for him, and ultimately discovers more - about both Christopher and herself - than she expected or wanted to.
'A Separation' is an atmospheric novel with a slight mystery bent; it is the type of book where the ending is apparent from that start, but its beautiful prose and atmospheric nature keeps things interesting from start to finish. I highly recommend you give this book a shot - just be sure to manage your expectations; this book is sparklers, not fire.