Publication Date: March 30, 2010
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A tale of twisted love from Yoko Ogawa--author of "The Diving Pool" and "The Housekeeper and the Professor."
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.
HOWARD CURLE is a lecturer in the Film Studies Programme at the University of Manitoba. STEPHEN SNYDER is Associate Professor in the Film Studies Programme at the University of Manitoba.
Author Yoko Ogawa's Hotel Iris, published in Japanese in 1996, is the latest of her books to be translated into English. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the story, about a 17-year-old girl who begins an intense, sometimes violent affair with a tenant of her mother's rundown hotel, is decadent and profoundly sad. More at NPR.org
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