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Hotel Iris: 12/28/14

cover art

I read Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa while taking a break from another (and much longer) Japanese novel, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Though one is science fiction and the other is literary fiction, they do share the theme of sex as a means of control.

The titular hotel is a struggling, rundown hotel on the Japanese coast. It's well past its prime and is being run by a woman and her teenage daughter, Mari. The sort of place that now brings in johns and prostitutes more than it brings in families or respectable businessmen.

The book opens with Mari witnessing her mother tossing out a drunken prostitute. Mari, bored with her work and her isolating life in the hotel, is fascinated by the smooth voice of the fifty-eight year old john. She introduces herself to him and learns he is a translator.

Known from that time on as just The Translator, he begins to fill the gaps in Mari's life — quickly pulling her into a world of sex that Mari is not prepared for. Ogawa uses beautiful language to describe a disturbing relationship that brings to mind 1Q84, as I mentioned before, and The Pirate's Daughter by Robert Giradi.

Three stars

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