- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (7 April 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099548992
- ISBN-13: 978-0099548997
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hotel Iris Paperback – 7 Apr 2011
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"It's brave territory for Ogawa, and she manages in with sharp focus; she creates moments of breathtaking ugliness, often when least expected...but also sometimes a longing that is touching and tender" (Independent)
"Both very weird and very good... Image by perfect image, we are led down into a mysterious and gripping universe, simultaneously beautiful and terrifying... From the opening sentences of Hotel Iris you know that every word will count and that every scene will be the occasion for strong and strange feeling" (Times Literary Supplement)
"To read Ogawa is to enter a dreamlike state tinged with a nightmare... She possesses an effortless, glassy, eerie brilliance" (Guardian)
"Precisely written, this dreamlike narrative expands into an ambiguous story of sexual dependency and damage. Ogawa's exact prose glitters as menacingly as the surrounding sea" (Independent)
"Exploring dark desires is something at which Ogawa has become disconcertingly adept" (New York Times)
A dark and beautifully written story of a young girl's tragic love triangle with an older man and his young nephewSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
There's much here that seems to resonate with foreign notions of the Japanese psyche. The use of sex as both a complex outlet for power games and a means to excavate the subject's confused interior landscape. Mari, the protagonist, desires the humiliation that her lover, the Russian translator subjects her to. Here is the pertinence of Mantel's comment. It is the kind of book which it might be said could only be published by a female writer, in this day and age. If a man were to suggest that Mari wanted this 'abusive' relationship, exploring it from her point of view, it is hard to think he would be taken seriously and would in all likelihood be read as exploitative. However, in Ogawa's hands, the story is strangely convincing. Mari is never a victim: she remains a level-headed appraiser of her situation, no matter how dangerous. We are in similar territory to the recent film of Norwegian Wood: just because you're going through something difficult and complex doesn't make for an inevitably tragic narrative.Read more ›
Mari lives at the hotel. Her mother owns it; her father, grandfather and grandmother are all dead. Mari's mother treats her as a skivvy, working longer hours and for fewer thanks than the actual staff maid. Mari is young, naïve and lonely. So when she runs into a translator who offers her companionship, she jumps at the chance even though she knows he has a dark side...
This short novel is carefully written to generate an atmosphere of seediness, decay and menace. We know that Mari is exposing herself to great risk, yet she embraces it as a viable alternative to her hopeless existence at the hotel. It's a difficult balance to strike, but Mari manages to avoid the role of helpless victim; she has a feistiness and determination to get what she wants. Insofar as she is a victim, she is a completely willing one.
One might safely assume that Yoko Ogawa's parents have long since passed because there are some scenes you wouldn't want your mother to read, especially if you had written them yourself. They are intimate and they are graphic. But they contrast with scenes of great tenderness and affection. Hotel Iris is not straightforward; it creates complex people that you never fully know. It is a novel as much about what is not said as what is written down on the page.
As well as the characterisation and story, Ogawa has a great ability to create images and scenes with very few words. The reader stands with Mari and the translator on the ferry, feeling the salt spray in the air; the reader knows the layout of the translator's house; sees the peeling paint in the hotel.Read more ›
It's a slight story and soon over. It would have been more gripping if we'd gained greater insight into what drives the girl and the man. We never sense she is turned on by what she seems compelled to put herself through. She could be describing a day spent making origami. And yet the narrator seems peculiarly unaware - or fatalistic - about the danger she courts. Toward the end I couldn't help reflecting on some of the real life murders committed by Japanese men on women - the Lucy Blackman case came to mind - sadistic fantasies that get completely out of control.
Hotel Iris makes a good companion piece of with Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. For a more insightful novel on female sexuality, check out Hi, I'm Luna. I'm a Sex Addict
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wish that this novel had more of a developing plot, then it could have been more complete. It felt rather unfinished to mePublished 4 months ago by Samantha Campo-Redondo Hartmann
Short but excellent story with an intriguing sub-text. A delightful read.Published 8 months ago by Patrick McParland
I thought I'd read this after having read so many positive reviews. I would not recommend this book to anybody.Published 9 months ago by Santa
A lot of cruel sex scenes threatens to ruin this book but then Yoko manages to contrast this with such pure and beautiful language of the poor girl's plight. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Antax
Really affecting book written with a masterful use of mood and choice of appropriate words. Great read for fans of Japanese literature.Published 21 months ago by Niall J. Ruddy
good book a bit different to conventional fiction stories, remaining Lolita by Nabokov, however different. Why my review has to contain a precise number of words?Published on 28 Oct. 2013 by not happy ome
This one didn't do it for me. Although Ogawa is writing around an area of dangerous territory, this book lacked the warmth and the emotion of The Housekeeper and the Professor. Read morePublished on 21 Aug. 2013 by David Madden