Running a River Farm

A family’s river farm struggles to survive as a strained relationship between father and son becomes more bitter.


| November 2012


Gone to the Forest (Free Press, 2012) by Katie Kitamura tells the gripping saga of the strained relationship between a father and son and their failing river farm. Set in a colonial country on the brink of a civil war, their relationship is further challenged by the arrival of a young woman to the river farm. Gone to the Forest is “a mesmerizing novel, one whose force builds inexorably as its story unfolds in daring, unexpected strokes” according to Julie Orringer, author of “The Invisible Bridge.” Trace the history of Tom’s relationship with his father in the following excerpt from chapter 1. 

Tom hears the noise from across the hall. A quick stream of native patois. At first he thinks it is the servants talking. But then he hears the crackle of static. The high cadence of a bugle. The voice picks up again and is louder. Agitated and declaiming.

It is the radio—somebody has left the radio on. Tom gets to his feet. The old man is not in his study, he is out by the river. But the noise is not coming from the old man’s study. Tom follows the sound down the corridor. He goes to the kitchen, thinking perhaps Celeste has been listening to the afternoon drama—

The kitchen is empty. The dishes sit washed and gleaming on the shelves. A drip of water from the tap. Perplexed, Tom turns around. The voice continues to speak from somewhere behind him. He follows the sound to the veranda. There, a radio sits on the edge of the table, the volume turned high.



Brothers, our time has come. We are tired of being ground under the boot of the white oppressor. We are tired of being suffocated by these parasites. For so many years we have not even been aware of their tyranny. We have been sleeping! 

A chair has been pulled up to the table. As if someone has been sitting and listening intently. Tom does not immediately recognize the radio—he thinks it has been taken from the library, he cannot be sure. On the farm, they do not often listen to the wireless. Impossible to understand why it is here on the veranda.














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