Hotel Iris By Yoko Ogawa – Beautifully Ugly, Dark And Shocking

I do not suppose what Ogawa wrote is unrealistic.  At times, we read in the news about some women who are victims of domestic violence but yet, they have a tendency to return to the very same man who bestows such violence upon them.  I have read the story of Natascha Kampusch and had a glimpse of the kind of sick things some men do behind closed doors.  I have also read that some couples enjoy S&M and derives extreme pleasure from extreme pain. Mixing these together, we have “Hotel Iris” – almost.

A young girl who works at the front desk of a hotel is seduced by a much older man who appears to be mostly timid and loving outside his house, and someone quite the opposite when he is alone.  The love affair has then turned into a strange game of S&M.  How can a young girl be seduced by such a monster and be convinced that this is OK and that she is shamelessly ugly?  Ogawa has indeed taken a brave move and she presents to the readers the psychological and emotional journey of a young girl in first person view: Her longing to be away from her demanding job at the hotel, her longing to see this old man who does strange things to her body while showering her with words of love and tenderness, and her plunging into the point of no return.  Ogawa’s writing style is neat and elegant.  Deployed to this rather dark and ugly topic, the story reads almost too beautiful.  I must say, it was a strange feeling reading “Hotel Iris”.

Like one reader has pointed out, “Hotel Iris” is very different from “The Housekeeper and the Professor“.  Had I read these two books without knowing who wrote them, very likely I would not have thought that they come from the same author.  The writing style is the same though.  Since I like Ogawa’s writing style, I enjoy reading the two book just the same.  I look forward to reading more of hers.

4 thoughts on “Hotel Iris By Yoko Ogawa – Beautifully Ugly, Dark And Shocking”

  1. I found this to be a disturbing read and wish there was a PG rating for some books in the library, notably “The Slap” too by Christos Tsiolkas (numerous foul language). Yet it displays Ogawa prowess in writing about such difficult subject. Her “Diving Pool” is not easy read either with evil lurking in every corner of the short stories. I have read all her books now and probably will read more if the rest get translated to English.

    1. JoV – You are right. Books should be self-rated. I find that Japanese writers are often liberal when it comes to writing. Perhaps that has something to do with culture?

      Ogawa has a special gift. I would love to have her skill!

  2. Wow, you do have quite a varied reading interest. I haven’t quite got the mettle to sit down with a good fiction book and to read and absorb it as well as you do. Keep up the good work in religiously blogging man. I know that reviews aren’t exactly the easiest things to do. 🙂

    1. Walter – You read tons of non-fiction books I suppose?

      Thanks and you too! I have always enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

      I suppose if you are not thinking too hard on writing a “review” but rather your experience, it just flows naturally?

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