Color photograph of an Asian woman with long dark hair and a blue striped button up top with sleeves rolled, looking directly at the camera with a serious expression

Katie Kitamura

Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust
1 settembre 2023–12 gennaio 2024
Clinical Professor, Creative Writing Program, New York University
Titolo del progetto
Descrizione del progetto

One day, a tree is mysteriously delivered to the narrator’s house—a genetically modified organism, an experimental species. Its arrival prompts the narrator to investigate the origins of the tree, with the action of the novel moving from a biogenetics lab in Florida, to a nineteenth-century immunologist’s groundbreaking research in Sicily, to the history of pine tapping and turpentine production across Europe and the United States. Combining elements of autofiction, detective novels, and horror, Turpentine explores themes including autoimmunity, genetic modification, climate change, and the pharmaceutical industry. The novel is also intimately tied up with ideas of care, healing, immunity, and disease. Above all, it explores the question of how we define the natural, and how we experience the unnatural—whether in the world around us, or within the boundaries of our own bodies.