What Katie Kitamura Thinks You Should Read Right Now

The author of Intimacies recommends Alexandra Kleeman, Elena Ferrante, and Tove Ditlevsen

What Katie Kitamura Thinks You Should Read Right Now
Image:Riverhead Books

This summer, Jezebel is hosting authors sharing summer reading recommendations from across various genres. Today’s guest is Katie Kitamura, author of the new novel Intimacies, which follows a translater who has left New York for the Hague in the wake of her father’s death and begun working at the international criminal court, where she’s assigned to translate during the trial of a former president accused of war crimes.

“The narrator has a very partial understanding of what’s happening all around her. That felt to me like it might speak to how some people are feeling right now, this cascade of news,” she told the New York Times in a profile, absolutely nailing the mood of this entire era in history. To complete the circle, here, Intimacies has already appeared on another writer’s summer reading list—the one released annually by former president Barack Obama.

Kitamura’s list ranges from Elena Ferrante’s Naples to Alexandra Kleeman’s near-future California.

Katie Kitamura’s Summer Reading List

The Neopolitan Novels

Ferrante depicts the sweltering city of Naples with an intensity that transmits heat. But these novels emanate heat of all kinds—intellectual, sexual, emotional. These four books will hold you rapt through the summer and beyond.

The Copenhagen Trilogy

Ditlevsen’s Copenhagen may be far from Ferrante’s Naples, but like the Neopolitan books, this trilogy is so closely observed and full of tension they’re near impossible to put down.


A meditation on loss, grief, and art. Bakoupolos conjures Athens with detail and precision, and in the pages of this melancholy and sophisticated novel, the city comes to life in all its complexity and beauty.

Swimming Home

Levy’s writing—with its intelligence and idiosyncrasy—is always a deep pleasure, and nowhere more so than in this novel of a family on vacation, whose idyll is broken by the arrival of an interloper.

Grand Union

This collection contains one of the best stories I’ve read on what it means to go on vacation—personally, symbolically, politically. You may never recline in an inflatable ring with the same ease again.


A sunbaked novel drenched in political and existential dread, with the pacing of a thriller. Transit is set in Marseille during the Occupation. The characters, desperate to flee France, are trapped in the limbo of transit visas, boat passages, bureaucracy.

Something New Under the Sun

A novel literally and metaphorically about thirst, Kleeman’s latest is full of bold imagination. Set in a near-future California, the novel dazzles with its intelligence and playfulness.


A friend borrowed my hardcover copy of Netherland and took it to the beach. It returned to me somewhat damp, the pages warped, encrusted in sand. On the beach that day, she met someone who also admired the book, a love affair commenced. I’m not sure what more you could ask of a novel, or indeed a beach.

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