Katie Kitamura Talks About ‘Affinities’


The somewhat directionless, anonymous narrator of Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, “Affinities” He gets a job as a translator at an international criminal court. In this week’s podcast, Kitamura talks about the novel, including her awareness of the book’s title.

“As a word, ‘closeness’ is something we think is desirable and is something we look for, especially in our relationships, but also in friendships and all people we care about,” Kitamura says. “But I think there’s a reason it’s plural, which is that there are so many different kinds of intimacy in the novel, and many of them are undesirable, imposed on the narrator. But when I finished writing the novel, I realized that there were multiple incidents of sexual harassment, of sexual intimidation, interspersed throughout. I realized later, because a novel is really about power, and sexual harassment is of course more about power than desire. So it made sense to have these little negotiations, these intrusions and these forms of forced intimacy.”

Acclaimed writer and director James Lapine visits the podcast to talk about “bring together” A new mix of memoir and oral history about Stephen Sondheim, his first collaborative effort to create the musical “Sunday in the Park With George”.

“Part of the joy of writing the book was rediscovering who I was at the time, because you’re so involved in something – you’re not outside of it – and maybe it takes 35 years to look back and realize what it was. It’s actually going on,” says Lapine. It was “a kind of digression, both in terms of show and creative process, and what it was like to make my first Broadway show as a writer and director, which was in my case.”

Also in this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history as she celebrates her 125th anniversary; Elizabeth Harris has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner and Jennifer Szalai talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. The host is Pamela Paul.

Here are the books Times reviewers are discussing this week:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode and the Book Review podcast in general. you can send them books@nytimes.com.


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