Hotel Iris: Book summary and reviews of Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa

Hotel Iris

A Novel

By Yoko Ogawa

Hotel Iris
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2010,
    176 pages.

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Book Summary

Paperback Original. In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers.  When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction.  In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.

The man is a proud if threadbare translator living on an island off the coast.  A widower, there are whispers around town that he may have murdered his wife.  Mari begins to visit him on his island, and he soon initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, a place in which she finds herself more at ease even than the translator.  As Mari's mother begins to close in on the affair, Mari's sense of what is suitable and what is desirable are recklessly engaged.

Hotel Iris is a stirring novel about the sometimes violent ways in which we express intimacy and about the untranslatable essence of love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[Ogawa] explores the power of words to allure and destroy in this haiku-like fable of love contorted into obsession ... [A] savage novel." - Publishers Weekly

"Minimalist Ogawa trades the eccentric relationships of her debut novel (The Housekeeper & The Professor) for a much darker affair in her latest plumbing of human experience. ... A spare, disquieting fable." - Kirkus Reviews

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Author Information

Yoko Ogawa Author Biography

Yoko Ogawa is the author of The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Hotel Iris. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Since 1988 she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, and has won every major Japanese literary award. Her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor has been adapted into a film, The Professor's Beloved Equation. She lives in Ashiya, Japan, with her husband and son.

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