Book Review: A Separation by Katie Kitamura
After their months-long separation and impending divorce, a woman goes to Greece to search for Christopher, her missing husband.
The marketing for A Separation is misleading, and that irritates me.
Here’s the official publisher description, courtesy of Goodreads:
“A mesmerizing, psychologically taut novel about a marriage’s end and the secrets we all carry.”
On Amazon, A Separation currently a bestseller in the psychological thriller genre.
Elle describes it thusly in this quote widely used in promoting the book:
“Kitamura’s prose gallops, combining Elena Ferrante-style intricacies with the tensions of a top-notch whodunit.”
Did we read the same book? Did you read the book at all, Elle? Or did you just want to name-drop Elena Ferrante?
A Separation doesn’t “gallop.” It stands still and contemplates.
It isn’t “psychologically taut.” It’s a slow-moving and thoughtful inner monologue.
It isn’t a “whodunit.” It doesn’t even matter who did it. The focus is on the main character’s feelings about the end of the relationship. Christopher’s fate is a plot point, but not the plot point. More important is the emotional difference his actual separation makes from the separation she thought they’d have.
It isn’t a thriller. It’s a meditation.
This is a perfectly fine book that I would have given three stars. The writing style is a bit meditative and static for my personal taste. But the misleading marketing (not the author’s fault) is unforgivable.
Riverhead Books (part of Penguin) published A Separation. They have impressive titles under their publishing belt, ones I enjoyed and did not feel misled, including my recently beloved The Mothers.
I’m willing to assume good intent and a different reading experience on my part. But only with a leery side eye.
I’ve heard this refrain several times about A Separation – it’s pitched as a thriller, which it most definitely is not. Some even call it the next Gone Girl.
- Please, can we stop with the Gone Girl comparisons already??
- No. It. Is. Not. It’s a disservice to this book to compare it to something which it is not.
My feelings are much stronger for the marketing than they are for the book, which is a shame.