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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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn [Book Review]

sharp-objects-book-cover.jpgTitle : Sharp Objects

Author : Gillian Flynn

ISBN : 9780307341556

Publisher : Broadway Books

Genre : Mystery

Pages : 394

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars




“See, there I am. I told you I lived. I told you I was.”

Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects crashes into a person’s consciousness like a wave. There is strength in the dialogue and the script and she eases it home with a plot twist waiting to be unraveled.

At the outset, Sharp Objects sounds loosely like any other detective novel. Camille Preaker, a journalist, is sent to her hometown, a place she has not visited in years, to cover a series of murders. She does so reluctantly setting the plot in motion. Once there, she just remembers all the reasons why she has avoided that place like the plague. Only, being older and more knowledgeable this time around, her intuition warns her of something amiss, and that is something connected to the series of murders plaguing the town.

Written in first-person, it follows Camille’s thoughts and observations turning this into a suspense thriller of the first order. But there is more to this book than a person might gather from the summary – it is also a psychological thriller (in a weird way comparable to In The Woods by Tana French)

As any other Flynn’s books, Sharp Objects targets the ugly side of humanity, the one that people are not okay exposing, but she reveals it layer by layer, showing us how warped humanity is under all its pretenses. It is the protagonist’s inner thoughts that actually bring out the raw and real side of the book. Thoughts like “A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.”, and “I ached once, hard, like a period typed at the end of a sentence.” makes the reader give just that pause to understand how Camille processes things, how messed up she is in the head and the circumstances that brought her to it.

Flynn does an amazing job pulling off damaged humans and the surrounding environs, but there’s truth to it; nobody’s undamaged in this world, there’s always a certain tick that sets people apart. It’s just that some people exhibit it, some don’t. The characters introduced are complex, majorly messed up, which also makes them very real to the world. She does not mince words when it comes to describing and analyzing horrific details either, whether of the murders or of the characters. The plot itself is convoluted and fast paced so a reader would want to keep reading, with the knowledge that a lot of messy things are just around the corner. All said and done, this book is not for the faint hearted, and if self-harm disturbs you, consider this the warning.

Reviewed by Mitra Somanchi.

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