Editor’s note: We feature the brilliant recommendations of our partner, the Champaca Bookstore, in the Read section twice a month. FYI: Champaca is an independent women-run and -founded bookstore and children's library in Bangalore.
Book of the Month: ‘Intimacies’ by Katie Kitamura
Have you ever lived among people who spoke a different language? Tried to find a word in one language, but could only remember it in another? What does it mean to be isolated from others because of a communication barrier—or to find connection because of a shared language? In our February Book of the Month, ‘Intimacies’ by Katie Kitamura, we find a moving, thoughtful exploration of language, home, and the double-sided nature of connection.
The protagonist of ‘Intimacies’, newly moved to the Hague, works as an interpreter in the International Court. Her day job involves translating terrible acts of violence, genocide, and war. She must convey these words with their full meaning and intention as closely as possible—and so must make herself invisible in the process. But there’s a discomfiting intimacy in the act of translating words into the ear of another; of being aware that there are only a handful of people in the room who understand the language you’re speaking.
‘Intimacies’ is a sharp, taut novel, maintaining a sense of urgency throughout. It’s a fascinating exploration of language through the eyes of an interpreter. In the work that the protagonist does, and in her personal life—a troubled relationship, a life in a new city, an act of violence she hears of but does not see—there’s a strong sense of intimacy, and an exploration of morality and complicity.
‘Intimacies’ is our February read for the Champaca Book Subscription, as we explore the theme of Loneliness and Connection. One of our favourite books, ‘Intimacies’ draws you in with its beautiful prose, asks hard questions of the world we live in, and leaves us with a keen appreciation of our relationships with the people and places we love.
Join us by signing up for the Champaca Book Subscription to receive ‘Intimacies’ in a curated book box at your doorstep.
From our shelves
If you’ve been to Champaca, you know that our shelves are always brimming with picture books! While most of them are piled up in our children’s section, we truly believe these picture books are for anyone and everyone. They bring us poignant, simple stories that nudge us to think and reflect on various aspects of our lives. Allow us to introduce you to some of our favourites.
Sultana’s Dream: by Rokheya Hossain. A powerful story of how peace-loving women overpowered aggressive men through the power of their brains—first appeared in 1905. In this edition, published by Tara Books, Durga Bai, a woman artist from the Gond tribe of central India responds to the original story, adding a new layer of meaning to it.
I Like Cats: by Anushka Ravishankar. Find a collection of beautiful cat illustrations rendered by some of the best-known tribal and folk artists of India. In the book, also by Tara Books, we meet sunny cats, sad cats, grinning cats, bad cats, cats with scowls, cats with jowls, and more!
Grown Ups Who Never Stopped Drawing: by Urvashi Dubey. Packed with insights on determination and courage, ‘Grown Ups Who Never Stopped Drawing’ introduces us to many great masters of art from Leonardo Da Vinci to Pablo Picasso. The book tells us about their unique journeys, and their art styles.
Life at Champaca: At Champaca, we’ve entered 2023 armed with wonderful books. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, our year-end listicle is perfect to choose from. In it, each staff member picked a book that made them laugh. You can read it here, and don’t forget—there’s always more staff recommendations on our website. This January, our stacks are bursting with new books. If you’re in Bangalore, we invite you to visit our store, have a cup of hot coffee, and go home with a bag full of books. For folks who can’t visit our store, why not browse our virtual shelves? We have a range of new titles for you to choose from.