Review: Katie Kitamura’s international novel hits close to home

Contributed Photo by Clayton Cubitt / Katie Kitamura

"INTIMACIES: A NOVEL" by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead Books, 240 pages, $16).

From the outside, the unnamed protagonist of Katie Kitamura's fourth novel, "Intimacies," is an elite woman who is excellent at her job as an interpreter for the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

She is fluent in English and Japanese through her parents, learned French through a childhood in Paris and is competent in Spanish and German from her years living in other European cities. As an interpreter, she makes full use of her multilingual abilities. The job also requires precision, speed and, most importantly, the kind of poised, thick-skinned personality that allows her to listen and reiterate stilted legalese and horrifying testimonies on a day-to-day basis.

Kitamura's narrator is what some of us would call a third-culture kid (TCK), someone who grew up in a culture different from their parents'.