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Gone to the Forest by [Kitamura, Katie]
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Gone to the Forest Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 209 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description


The death-throes of a colonial world captured in dark, obsessive prose, punctuated by images of strange, surreal beauty. One thinks at times of both Coetzee and Gordimer, but Kitamura is very much her own writer (Salman Rushdie)

A ruthless, controlled style distinguishes this novel ... [Kitamura's] style reminds one of Marguerite Duras and Herta Müller - power is the subject, and the execution is precise (The Daily Beast)

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)

I have been in a daze ever since I finished this book. Gone to the Forest is superb. It is so beautifully written, so balanced - there isn't a spare sentence or word in the whole thing ... Utterly distinctive. Kitamura is one of the best living writers I've read, and she gives the dead ones a run for their money. (Evie Wyld, author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice)

Hemingway's returned to life - and this time, he's a woman (Tom McCarthy, author of C, Remainder and Men in Space)

A relentless fever dream, each perfectly pared paragraph urging you on to the next (Ed Park, author of Personal Days)

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)

A stark, urgent, beautiful novel. Katie Kitamura merges history and fable to create an explosive narrative about people trapped by terrible events they cannot control, but in which they are also deeply implicated. Its themes are ambitious - guilt and innocence, power and submission, meaning and nonsense. The characters and images of Gone to the Forest continue to haunt me, a tribute to their lasting emotional power and their creator's extraordinary gifts. (Siri Hustvedt, author of The Summer Without Men)

There is nothing better on earth, fictive or not, than What Goes Wrong on the Plantation, and in Gone to the Forest it goes totally and splendidly wrong. (Padgett Powell 2012-06-11)

Evokes a Conradian Heart of Darkness portentousness . . . flashes of unexpected beauty . . . Like the intricate ingenuity of the floating farm flush with the golden fish, Gone to the Forest, in just 200 pages, floats, unfolds and astonishes. (Marie Myung-Ok Lee San Francisco Chronicle 2012-08-07)

In a restrained voice Ms. Kitamura offers echoes of J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace, coolly chronicling the family's undoing as it tracks against the political turmoil ripping through the nation. (Susannah Meadows New York Times 2012-08-29)

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. (Samantha Kuok Leese Spectator 2012-08-10)

Striking . . . Beautifully written . . . Kitamura's carefully wrought characters are captivating. (Hyphen Magazine 2012-08-01)

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.

[Starred review]

(Publishers Weekly)

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 2012-07-27)

A rising literary star ... Gone to the Forest is darkly seductive' (Aimee Farrell Vogue 2013-01-01)

Rendered in a stripped-back eerily simple prose... reads like Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy... It's horrible and beautiful and pretty much a class act all round (Stuart Hammond Dazed and Confused 2013-02-01)

Redolent of J.M. Coetzee and Joseph Conrad, this is not a novel that lets you go easily, even after you reach the end. (Hephzibah Anderson Daily Mail 2013-02-15)

Beautifully written, with the pace of a thriller, this is a dark, twisted gem (Delphine Chui Easy Living 2013-03-01)

Haunting and hypnotic... stunningly wrought... an intelligent, unforgettable novel (Psychologies 2013-03-01)

There is much to admire in this ambitious piece of fiction (Sarah Hall Guardian 2013-02-09)

A stunningly dark story (Lena de Casparis Company 2013-03-01)

Wonderfully evocative... by the end I was hooked and harrowed in equal measure. Gone to the Forest starts off very quietly but delivers a cracking great wallop at the end. (Simon Savidge We Love this Book 2013-02-01)

Beautifully observed... the cumulative effect of this shocking, desperate book is something that approaches magnificent. (Isabel Berwick FT 2013-02-16)

Thirty-three-year-old Katie Kitamura writes about raging, ageing men better than most raging, ageing men do themselves... Gone to the Forest is bold for many reasons: not only for the cultural, sexual, historical and national boundaries that Kitamura steps over to get into the minds of her characters. But also for the way she explores the cruelty of colonisation - whether it's of homelands, or of women's bodies - within a hauntingly beautiful, startlingly brief story of an old man dying. (Chris Cox Observer 2013-02-27)

Written in stripped-down prose, the whole has a mythic resonance that leaves a deep impression in the mind... in Gone to the Forest: as the rebels rise and a volcano explodes, Kitamura is dedicated to giving us a thrilling snapshot of tensions boiling over, and of "the world, falling to pieces". (Philip Womack Daily Telegraph 2013-01-12)

A pressure cooker of a book ... An allegorical novel of almost unnerving starkness (Alastair Mabbott Glasgow Herald 2013-03-02)

A novel of Steinbeckian characters living in a land of Biblical harshness described with a contemporary fast-and-looseness at a dizzying pace ... Otherworldly ... Strange, seductive, transporting. (Monocle 2013-04-01)

When a nearby volcano erupts, so do filial, sexual and political tensions, which Kitamura relates in cool, clipped reportage. The minimal context is frustratingly claustrophobic, but the effect is mesmerising. We discover a fable-like tale, restricted in relevance to no specific history or peoples, that condemns neither colonisers nor the colonised but rather those who fail to attempt understanding. This is sparse, dark, elegant prose that startles with its subtlety and sharp insight. (Kathleen Harris Irish Times 2013-03-23)

Book Description

A gripping and psychologically intense novel about the destruction of a family, a farm, and a way of life.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1103 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Clerkenwell Press (14 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B56399M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #461,978 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I read The Longshot a while ago and was hugely impressed.

Buying a copy of Gone To The Forest was a must for me and I'm pretty glad that I did.

It's a strong and disturbing book that follows the lives of a small family and community who live on a huge piece of land that was claimed by Tom's father (the old man) when nobody else seemed to own it.

At the opening, we meet Tom in extraordinary circumstances. He's been deserted. The house is empty. A radio on the porch informs locals that the revolution is on its way. There's immediate intrigue and tension. The tension mounts when Tom's father brings along a guest for dinner, the rather wayward niece of landowning neighbours, a lady whom it becomes clear is to become Tom's bride. In typical, sparse tones, the tale is told:

"He takes the girl fishing and a week later they are engaged. He does not know how the engagement happens. One minute they are fishing and the next Mr Wallace and Mrs Wallace are standing with his father on the veranda. There are champagne bottles being opened."

Tom's very wise when it comes to the land, farming and fishing. At everything else he's rather inept. He doesn't really understand people and his intuitions are proved wrong at every turn. His decisions are always flimsy and easily influenced and he has blinkers on to what is going on in the world. Like the story itself, he is pretty much confined to his house in this claustrophobic tale.

The characters in the story seem very distant. They don't drive the story; rather they seem to simply exist from day to day. It can make the read difficult at times, this distance, and being pulled by the nose by the plot is not entirely satisfying.
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Format: Paperback
Well written and vividly sets the scene for the dramatic events of European colonization being overthrown in an unnamed land. Although the landscape is well described, there’s real restraint in the character writing just giving brief descriptions of each character’s feelings, traits and dialogue but skilfully done so each character has depth and believability.

The timeframe is quite short however with the focus from the author very much around the violence of nature (a volcano) and the violence of man (rebellion and sexual violence). This makes for quite a grim read in places so although I thought the style and language was very eloquent and effective I thought the overall storyline of the depressing side of human nature left me feeling rather disheartened.
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Format: Paperback
Tom is living on a farm in an unnamed country. Tourism is dwindling and times are getting hard but the richest of food is still being served at the dinner table. He’s tried to win the affection of his father but he just isn’t really anything like his old man, he didn’t choose the country, the land or the business of the farm. He’s not as capable as his father and isn’t able to command such a level of respect.

Things are changing across the country, the farmers are moving on, their farms and estates have become too hard to protect. Tom has never really known life beyond the grand surroundings of the farm, he can’t comprehend how events outside of the farm can have an impact on his world.

Two big events shake the foundations of Tom and his father’s world, the arrival of Carine and a volcanic eruption. People have become well accustomed to violence among humans but they’re not used to the sheer violence of the natural explosion. The arrival of the girl and the explosion herald the vanishing of the place he’s always known.

There is a constant threat to their existence throughout the book, things are always on the verge of boiling over and destroying their livelihood. The people have come to value and seek property, something they’ve learned from their colonial masters.

This book is superbly written, totally engrossing throughout and carries a devastating power. It features some horrific scenes as it describes the changes to the land and to the individual. It shows people losing their grip on power and the dark forces that rise within individuals and groups as they claim what they feel they are owed in the world. It is masterful in its description of the slow deterioration of human life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel came highly recommended. Kitamura's restrained style of writing was said to be reminiscent of Coetzee, and with that I agree. The content matter of "Gone to the Forest "evokes Cootzes's novel "Waiting for the Barbarians", which I read and enjoyed some years ago, All the members of my reading group also enjoyed it.
It remains to be seen whether Kitamura will be "a new Cooetze" as I understand she is a budding writer. Judging from this novel she can certainly stand on her own two feet.
Not exactly a page turner, Gone to the Forest is nevertheless a very good read. It took me a couple of days to finish. The writing is excellent, there is not one superfluous word. That being said it's not a book that instills faith in the human race. It's rather gloomy and depressing, and the ending is not for the weak at heart.
Nevertheless, I shall certainly be looking out for Katie Kitamura! She is a truly original writer:-)
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