The light it emits is ghostly, like that from under the lid of a Xerox machine.
Like nearly everyone in this novel, she le a globalized, deracinated life. Her mother is in Singapore.
There are a lot of visas in her passport. Your animal instincts as a reader — the tingling of the skin, the eagerness to pick the book back up — may be engaged before the rest of you is.
The dread kicks in early, when the brother of a friend, who owns a bookstore, is beaten in a seemingly senseless act of street violence. He sometimes ghosts her, in the modern sense of that word. Not a lot is happening but, as they say on airplanes, oxygen is flowing even though the bag may not appear to inflate.
She interprets for, and thus climbs inside the he of, notorious criminals. The narrator is ased to the trial of a former West African president, an unrepentant devotee of what is euphemistically called ethnic cleansing.
To her surprise, he starts to like her. The narrator is a critic of the court, though she largely admires its work.
The defendants tend to be Black; no one is dragging Henry Kissinger in by the ear. Kitamura pays attention to the dark side of urban landscapes, the things we prefer not to learn about.
Skill and poise matter for an interpreter. If you sound flustered, so will the person for whom you are interpreting.
Her antennae are precisely attuned to magnetism, verbal dexterity, physical beauty and, conversely, their lack. She has a concierge-level of disengagement.
The rapt attention it pays to the problems of glamorous, international, well-appointed people, not to go all Tea Party on the readers of this review, poked whatever class antagonisms I cling to. There are not many stray, stabbing insights.
A film version would feature a lot of long, somber, pre-dawn drone shots of the stylish urban landscape and a thrumming score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.