Book Review: A Separation is a quietly devastating depiction of modern loss and alienation

To say the nameless narrator of A Separation isn’t one for emotional confessions would be to understate the case. Chapter after chapter, the reader waits for backstory to be revealed, for opinions to be laid out, for some easy connection to the woman who is relaying the details of her circumstances with such low-key detachment. But those expectations remain unfulfilled. When the emotional truths begin to unveil themselves—and they eventually do, with the quiet intensity of a tornado’s eye—it’s startling, as though the clear-eyed analysis and deeply felt honesty of the prose snuck in the back door, and only retroactively made itself known. This is a book of understated revelations, full of stark language that nonetheless demurs at every opportunity to make a bold gesture or proclaim a more risky perspective.

But the alienation of the novel isn’t unrecognizable, or jarring. Katie Kitamura has …

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