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A Separation
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2017 SUMMER Bookclub > A Separation book discussion

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments space to discuss A Separation by Katie Kitamura


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 1 comments I read this one early this year. I really liked it but I know a lot didn't do I'm looking forward to discussing it.


Liza (littleinsect) | 1 comments I really liked it, too. Surprised it's gotten such mixed reviews.


message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments just picked it up from the library. LOVE the cover :) I haven't really heard much about the book yet but BookRiot featured it on a 'cover love' article.


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 1 comments It's one of my favorite 2017 covers.


Jaylynny | 21 comments Okay, I volunteer as tribute for the flaming :)

A little spoilerish (but not much, because, well):






There was some lovely writing, and the ending (not the overall story's ending, which was maddeningly but perhaps logically unresolved, but the heroine's story's ending) packed more punch emotionally than I expected.

But this book was so passive, the voice so detached, the perseveration so annoying. Yes, I understand that the point of the book is not the plot/'mystery' (and the book has been misleadingly publicized as a thriller), but for me, there must still be some kind of forward-moving drive. Yes, I'm prone to liking an urgent sort of drive, so this was not my thing.

This book reminded me of The Gloaming not only for its obvious parallels, but the setting (the narrator's internal musings). The Gloaming had a little more narrative fire, though, and that seems to be necessary, for me at least.

Confession: by the end I skimmed the shit outta this book.


Simon I'm with you Jaylynny, I found this pretty underwhelming. While I appreciate that the novel was centered around what the main character is thinking, I just wanted something to happen to break up the monotony or for her to have something new to reflect on.

I would have liked for there to have been more meaningful reflection on the relationship with Christopher (or about herself) or some sense of personal development from the events in the book... or more use made of the setting; just some reason to want to get to the end of the book.

I was reminded of a couple books from last year's Man Booker longlist while reading this book, not because A Separation is like them but because I wish they were more so... Deborah Levy's Hot Milk, which made great use of the Mediterranean setting and had a more relatable main character that grew through the story and Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton which packed significantly more relationship reflection into an even shorter book.

In the end it just didn't live up to its billing of being 'mesmerising' or 'psychologically taut' or of just being particularly interesting.


Jaylynny | 21 comments Agree on all counts!


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments Early yet, but the narrator and tale both remind me of Tessa Hadley's The Past which I enjoyed listening to but ultimately DNF. Similar passivity, wayward husbands, British relatives and stiffness. The MC hasn't discussed her heritage except to comment on her mother-in-law naming her "foreign" but I'm wondering if her inaction and placidity are as much cultural as personality related.

Meanwhile I have appreciated some of her observational 'bon mots.'


Patty | 46 comments You all make me feel much better about my reactions to this novel. I could not make a connection to the narrator. I didn't want to be held at arm's length - she was going through such a tragdic time. But I never connected.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 444 comments I enjoyed this quite a bit. It reminds me a lot of Outline by Rachel Cusk.


message 12: by Beth (new) - rated it 2 stars

Beth Dean (readremark) | 29 comments I so agree with Jaylynny etc - the book is just too passive for me. It's the literary equivalent of someone speaking in a pleasant monotone voice. This atmospheric stasis seems to be an emerging trend ( e.g. Universal Harvester, Idaho).


message 13: by Ellen (last edited May 31, 2017 05:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ellen H | 706 comments Alison, that was the book that I thought of when I read it, too -- but I hadn't cared for Outline; I could even say I "didn't get it". This book was more accessible to me. I was really taken by the Rebecca device of never divulging the protagonist's name, and essentially defining her by the people around her, even though she clearly didn't connect with any of them. We also learn essentially nothing about her background, while learning quite a bit about others', particularly the husband. It didn't seem like a gimmick to me, and stuff like that usually does.

I would never have read this book if it weren't for the ToB. That's why I love the ToB.


message 14: by Sara G (new) - added it

Sara G Alison wrote: "I enjoyed this quite a bit. It reminds me a lot of Outline by Rachel Cusk."

Same, Alison! In Outline, the narrator goes more outside herself though, indulging in the stories of others.


message 15: by Drew (new) - rated it 3 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments I'm looking forward to starting this. My library ebook just became available and I'm pretty sure I can read at least 116 pages by next Wed.


Heather (hlynhart) | 299 comments I remember liking this novel, but not loving it, when I read it some time ago. But I think that may have largely been because I relate somewhat to the premise...my ex-husband died a few years ago, so I felt like she did a good job of articulating that sort of strange grief that comes from the loss of a relationship that you had already lost, if that makes sense. I don't think I would have thought too much of the book if I didn't have that personal connection to the material.


message 17: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments I finished A Separation over the weekend and I think I like the idea better than the execution. Not sure if avoiding the byline would have improved the experience, but I suspect so. The byline encourages one to suspect everyone and expect danger & the blurbs hint at an unreliable narrator. In reality, I found this to be a nicely-done detail of the conflicted and stressful feelings one might have at a family Thanksgiving or when hearing second-hand news of an ex you thought you were done thinking about. People who have known you intimately, even if they don't know/accept who-you-are-now, have a way of getting under the skin and pulling us back into old thought patterns and discomforts. The narrator has some distance from the old hurts (and hopes) of her wayward husband, but that doesn't mean they cannot flare up... and the habits of covering for family members - even after death, even after separation - are ones of which I am extremely familiar.


message 19: by Sara G (new) - added it

Sara G Wow, I'm already loving this. He's managed to shine new light on the book for me. I also like getting in there mid-read, instead of only approaching the commentator at the time of judgement. Many times it feels as if the commentary is designed to justify the ultimate decision instead of giving us a clear view of the book. Here no decision has been made yet, so the view is unmuddied.


message 20: by Jan (new) - added it

Jan (janrowell) | 1043 comments Sara wrote: "Wow, I'm already loving this. He's managed to shine new light on the book for me. I also like getting in there mid-read, instead of only approaching the commentator at the time of judgement. Many t..."

Agree, Sara. I'm also loving the more interactive approach -- the back and forth dialog rather than "I read the book and here's my review/judgment." I hadn't planned to read A Separation, but I enjoyed Rachel Cusk's two recent books, and based on the discussions in this group and on TMN today, I've added it to my TBR. :-)


message 21: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments I had no idea what yesterday's session was going to look like (video chat, live chat with responses to the audience... etc) I'm not sure why I didn't assume it would look similar to TOB daily roll-outs. Now that I know better, I'll be on first thing in the a.m. next Wednesday! I'm always amazed at all the books referenced in these conversations.


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