Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa [Book Review]

Hotel Iris Yoko Ogawa Book Review

Title : Hotel Iris

Author : Yoko Ogawa

ISBN : 978-0099548997

Publisher : Vintage

Genre : Mystery

Pages : 176

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars


Yoko Ogawa is the third Japanese author that I read (after Murakami & Ishiguro) and I must mention that her prose is captivating and powerful and puts together quite an imagery.

Hotel Iris is a sado-masochistic tale where a 17 year old girl Mari finds herself drawn towards a middle-aged ‘translator’, who knows his ways well to provide her ‘pleasure through pain & humiliation’ until the situation climaxes into a devastating end!

The relationship between Mari and the translator oscillates between being a tender one with mutual attraction blooming between them on one side, and the extremely graphic description of BDSM, voyeurism associated with humiliation and afflicting pain on the other.

Hotel Iris is one of those books that unabashedly describe the deviant (but consensual) sexual behavior and this novella is a meditation on how two people, who are somewhat neglected in their own platitudinous life, find solace in each other while engaging in acts that they find mutually satisfying. While reading the book, I was frequently reminded that how the plot can at best be described as a fusion between Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) & Fifty Shades of Grey, but Ogawa’s prose is mature & distinct enough to paint a unique literary picture.

The ending of the book is abrupt and left with quite a few unanswered questions but the way it kept me hooked till the end in spite of the extremely graphic description of sado-masochism (of which I am not a great fan), gave the cliched feeling of ” a satisfying read”. Now I am looking forward to read more works by the author.

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