Read Hotel Iris by Yōko Ogawa Stephen Snyder Online


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 toA 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....

Title : Hotel Iris
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312425241
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 164 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hotel Iris Reviews

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2018-12-24 01:31

    Fucking is fucking weird. Fact.Hrm. This one's tough. Just as with Ogawa's novellas, I found myself marveling at her ability to summon gorgeously terrifying, ornate mind-pictures with stark, crisp minimalism. She just chooses all the right words to put next to other words when she makes sentences. Out of words. But not very many words. Gimme that A, professor!(Here comes the inevitable 3-star) this case, she is using those words and words to make sentences to make paragraphs to make chapters to make a book about, well, BDSM. Not a subject I find myself studying much in my reading life, or a romantic situation I can relate to at all. A little bit of tuff tumble time is okay so long as it goes both ways, but if you're planning on choking me with a scarf, you'd better kill my ass or prepare for some cheap shots to the nuts followed by a television set for a hat. Anyway, it's all the rage, E.L. James, because apparently I am all alone in thinking being tortured and degraded is not a sexy prospect. So why doesn't Ogawa have millions of dollars and a Big Shit movie deal? Lady can write, son! Well, because this chaotic world's only semblance of order is its indisputable tendency to embrace unfairness, and the people who reap the rewards are too often those who write smut about tampons being yanked out of ladyparts, or shitty AB poetry about your annoying, pretentious boyfriend and what he means to your dental hygiene. That made sense to me, I promise.So the torture scenes are tough to read because torture, but made easier to stomach by the fact that our 17-year-old narrator is just loving it. Hey, man, it's your bedroom, and if you're having a nice time with rope cutting into your wrists and nipples, groveling on the dirty floor so you can put a 60-something old man's socks on with your mouth, don't let me be the one to tell you how revolting everything I just typed is to me.A BDSM tale with hints of murder mystery, contrasted with scenes of total sweetness. Our Christian Grey is an unattractive, aging translator, clumsy and unassuming out in the wider world, but pretty much psychotic when you dim the lights. He treats her like a precious jewel. He kicks her in the stomach. He writes love letters. He has a penchant for awkward segues.She resists, but he seizes her by the hair and throws her into the lake...She does not know how to swim, so her arms and legs thrash uselessly and her mouth opens and closes in wild convulsions...I can picture every detail of Marie's suffering, from the way the seaweed wraps about her ankles to the echoes of her cries among the birches. And then, in my mind, you, Mari, have taken her place.Would you like to have lunch at my home next Tuesday? I will cook for you.AndHow lovely your pale face looks when you are on the verge of suffocating and want to ask for my help...How long will this weather continue? It's the worst hot spell I have seen since moving to the island.Wow. Seriously, the weather? Niiiiiice touch. Oh, and this book has yet another absolutely horrifying subway death scene. Between this novel and The Pale King, I feel compelled to BEG you, my big city dweller friends, to make absolutely certain that every piece of your person and the clothing on your person has cleared the doors before they shut. The doors hate you. The doors want to eat you. Fear the doors. This book is beautifully written, but totally fucked. You can see all the little wormies wriggling around inside teency-cutesy Ogawa's creeptastic, hall-of-mirrors nightmare skull, and you rightly squirm. Not my kinda subject in this instance, but definitely my kinda gal in general. More, please.

  • Jr Bacdayan
    2018-12-28 20:10

    Equally intoxicating and disquieting, Hotel Iris is the story of Mari, a 17 year-old girl, her sexual awakening in the hands of a 67 year-old Russian Translator and their consuming sadomasochistic affair that tests the limits of love and desire. There’s something very straightforward about Yoko Ogawa’s prose that disarms the reader into surrender. Like the powerful voice of the Translator, which Mari finds so spell bounding, Ogawa slowly coaxes us out of our reservations by showing a voice so simple yet confident that we are left following her lead in a daze. Her words cut laser-like through the whole thing as if narrating nothing more than an innocent love story between a man and a girl, not even pausing to consider all the grimy details and the grey-area implications. “The desires of the human heart know no reason or rules.”Make no mistake, this book paints a very clear picture of BDSM in all its inglorious, bare form. And it is easy to suffocate amidst all the clear depictions of twisted decadence that it offers, pages with soundless screams of pleasure and paragraphs filled with distorted expressions of love. Yet in spite of all this, there lingers a curious tenderness between Mari and her Translator. And what unsettles more than the graphic descriptions is the voyeuristic nature of the narrative that in someway desecrates the sacred privacy of two very fragile people trying to express to each other their hatred of the world who ignored them and never gave them a second look. Finding in each other the perfect outlet, each with a different form of expressing their hate, but both coming together to meet the needs of the other. There is undoubtedly a gloomy sort of beauty in the way these two people devoid of self-worth find comfort in discovering that there exists someone who needs them. Somehow the fascinating relationship between Dominant and Submissive struck me as very strikingly similar to that of a Writer and Reader, especially in this case. Here we have a writer who makes it a point to push us to the very brink of our ethics with her words. Here I am, a reader, filled with unease yet obediently taking every word thrown upon me, even deriving some sort of wicked pleasure from the scenes they convey. It is a very curious affair, that of a writer and reader. To choose to read the words of someone is to give power to that person over you. Is it absolute authority? Not a chance. However every reader takes a vulnerable leap of faith and a certain trust is placed in the hands of the writer, every word an absolute, every period an unbreakable wall. We experience a whole range of emotions from pain, to sadness, to happiness all at the command of someone else and we derive pleasure from those words. Are we not all literary submissives? Are we not all in prostrate surrender till we gain the courage to write our own words and thus finally dominate those would care to read? Maybe I am reaching too much, maybe my imagination is too strong. Maybe this review is my revenge against my literary submissiveness, but then again maybe this is the manifestation of my domination over you. But probably not. At the end of the day this little novella is not asking for an exercise in moral fastidiousness. This is a little novella meant to convey a simple story with maybe no greater desire than to jolt us awake with its brand of painful passion. Indeed it is a powerful reminder of the terrifying potential of literature displaying romance, something we consider beautiful, in its most disfigured face. Asking us to consider how suffering and pleasure, hatred and love, even reading and writing, as not two different things altogether but two ends of the same stick connected by a body that is asking to be explored.

  • Dhanaraj Rajan
    2019-01-03 18:12

    I finished the novel in two sittings. It is very racy - at least i found it that way - and has an engaging plot. But after having finished the story, I am not sure what to make of it.There are and can be many interpretations. May be it is a psychological probe into the nature of love, and especially to that aspect which is 'untranslatable'. In this story a young girl of seventeen 'falls in love' with 67 year old man (translator by profession) and this man subjects her to all kind of sexual humiliations. The girl takes everything of the cruelty with longing/craving. Be warned: There are graphic descriptions about sexual violence. It is revolting for an ordinary person. But the girl finds in it ecstasy. Taking into account the fact that the girl has only her mother and the female servant for company, can we understand her willingness to submit to the old man a longing for the lost father? Is there anything opposite of Oedipus Rex Complex? If so, is this novel treating that as the main theme? Even then, will daughter fantasize so cruelly about her father? No idea.Sometimes, I felt that this is a story about translation. The male protagonist is a translator (from Russian to Japanese). The girl gets attracted to him by hearing his voice. The name of the girl in the Russian novel that is under translation is the same as the girl protagonist. Only the spellings differ. Fictional character is Marie and the real character is Mari. The translator's effort in tearing out every piece of cloth from the girl may indicate to getting to the bottom of the original text. Because the violence takes place only in the place where the translator is usually engaged in translating. He does not want her to get another opinion from another person of the same event narrated by the translator (translator's jealousy!). When she does he is furious. The final product of translation is necessarily a changed version, hardly closer to the original (the disfigured girl at the end). This act is always considered a crime (at least in the mind of the translator). The translator dies at the end leaving only his far-from-perfect-product.I am not sure. May be, I am reading too much into it. This story, however, left me in a confused state.

  • Praj
    2019-01-10 19:25

    From the age of 12, I have been obsessed with assorted novels revealing love affairs flanked by adolescent girls and older men. Perhaps, due to an discontented teenage fantasy or the fact that reading Marguerite Duras’s 'The Lover' during my 7th grade History class while picturing a virginal 15yr old fucking a 27-yr old Chinese tycoon, made me scribble 'Orgasm' in my notebook. I do not know the precise cause of my addiction, but the sinister juvenile seduction still tantalizes my imagination.So, when I selected Hotel Iris, I grinned at my literary dosage of unsophisticated seduction, highly unaware of the disillusionment stored ahead. Initiated on the lines of 'The Lover', the narrative ineffectively proceeds into a murky atmosphere of sexual supremacy and secrecy. Ogawa spins a story about Mari and her sexual sadistic lover- a Russian translator in the midst of a scenic Japanese island among numerous ferocious BDSM sessions. Entrancing as it sounds; the tale of a 17 year old Japanese girl taking pleasure in being a sexual slave to a 67yr old closet sexual aggressor is a careless attempt to be Duras. Mari does not come through as seductive or fragile lass. The characterization of each protagonist fails miserably leaving the confrontations dreary. The ineffectiveness of the narrative slithers out as soon the Japanese bondage, sexual frolics fail to electrify your nerves let alone being pulsating from them. Moreover the underlying mystery about the reclusive Russian is misplaced amid the chaotic array of sexual nuances and feeble recovery of the criminal component in the script leaves a trail of skepticism over the designated plot stuck between erotica and mystery. Assertions of Ogawa being the latest Marguerite Duras are an utter sham.

  • jo
    2019-01-12 18:38

    Το ξενοδοχείο Ίρις το αγόρασα μετά από πολύμηνη σκέψη. Δεν ξέρω γιατί είχα δεύτερες (και τρίτες) σκέψεις για την αγορά του μιας και τελικά μου άρεσε πολύ! Στην καρδιά της ιστορίας κρύβεται μια σαδομαζοχιστική σχέση μεταξύ ενός 67χρόνου άντρα και μιας 17χρόνης κοπέλας αλλά πέρα από την βιτσιόζικη αυτή πλευρά της σχέσης τους η συγγραφέας σου δείχνει και την πιο ευαίσθητη και ρομαντική πλευρά της.Θεωρώ ότι σε πολλούς αρέσει να διαβάζουν που και που για σχέσεις καταδικασμένες ή λίγο εκτός των ορίων, των κοινωνικών αλλά και ψυχικών, και θεωρώ πως η διαφορά ηλικίας του «ζευγαριού» θα είχε λιγότερη σημασία αν η συγγραφέας δεν μας έδινε πολύ περιγραφικά και με αρνητική χροιά το κάθε τι επάνω στον άντρα που πρόδιδε την ηλικία του. Νομίζω πως ήθελε να μας τονίσει την μεγάλη του ηλικία για να μας σοκάρει και να κάνει την μικρή της οποίας τις σκέψεις ακολουθούμε ακόμα πιο… «ανώμαλη».Η γραφή είναι πολύ καλή και όσοι διαβάζουν Ιαπωνική λογοτεχνία ξέρουν πως το συναίσθημα κρύβεται πάντα κάτω από στρώματα φαινομενικής αναισθησίας. Μπορεί οι χαρακτήρες να μας φαίνονται πάντα συναισθηματικά αποκομμένοι και αδιάφοροι εμπρός σε γεγονότα αλλά εγώ έβρισκα πάντα πως αν ξέρεις που να κοιτάξεις βρίσκεις φοβερά δυνατά συναισθήματα. Ξεχνούμε συχνά πως οι Ιάπωνες είναι τόσο διαφορετικοί από εμάς!Ο χαρακτήρας που με ενδιάφερε περισσότερο ήταν αυτός της κοπέλας μιας και ήταν η δική της φωνή που μας συνόδευε. Η συγγραφέας μας έδειξε πολύ φανερά γιατί της άρεσε να της φέρεται έτσι ο άντρας που εκείνη αποκαλεί «μεταφραστής» και δυστυχώς περιορίστηκε σε πολύ εύκολες λύσεις πάραυτα όμως ήταν πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα χαρακτήρας.Ένα από τα ωραία χαρακτηριστικά του βιβλίου ήταν και η τοποθεσία στην οποία διαδραματιζόταν η ιστορία, μια παραθαλάσσια Ιαπωνική πόλη. Οι περιγραφές της περιοχής σε έκανε να νομίζεις πως βρίσκεσαι σε κάποια πόλη της Ελλάδος!Θα το προτείνω σε όσους έχουν πιο ανοιχτό μυαλό μιας και μας δίδονται δυνατές σκηνές μέσα στο βιβλίο που κάποιος που δεν έχει συνηθίσει σε αυτές ίσως σοκαριστεί. Το απόλαυσα στις διακοπές μου, δεν με κούρασε καθόλου και σίγουρα θα το θυμάμαι για καιρό.

  • Viv JM
    2019-01-15 23:39

    4.5 starsI feel a little weird rating this book so highly. I mean, it is a somewhat dark and disturbing tale of a sadomasochistic affair between a 17 year old girl and a much older man!! But the writing is just so breath-taking. There is not a superfluous word in the whole book, and along with the shocking violence and cruelty there somehow manages to be such tenderness and beauty. Not for the faint-hearted, perhaps, but definitely an arresting read. I will certainly be seeking out more of Yoko Ogawa’s work.

  • Teresa
    2018-12-29 23:26

    I find it hard to say I like a book with such subject matter -- a first-person depiction of a young girl seeking out disturbing behavior -- but as with the other works I've read by Ogawa, I can say I admire its deceptively simple prose. (I see I used that exact phrase in my reviews of her Revenge and The Diving Pool: Three Novellas as well.)Mari, the narrator, doesn't name the other characters. They are their appellations: the translator, the nephew, the maid. Only Mari and the heroine of the Russian novel the translator is supposedly working on are named. The translator tells Mari the name of the heroine is Marie.The ending may seem abrupt, but looking back I see clues in the story the translator tells of a toddler and with what happens to a mouse. This juxtaposition in a letter from the translator to Mari also caught my eye: I can picture every detail of Marie's suffering ... And then, in my mind, you, Mari, have taken her place.Would you like to have lunch at my home next Tuesday? I will cook for you. ...

  • Katie
    2019-01-05 01:24

    Well....when people referred to this as "Japanese 50 Shades of Grey"....they were right in some ways. Would you all want to see a review of this?

  • T.D. Whittle
    2018-12-26 00:11

    *** Plot spoilers ahead! *** Hotel Iris is beautifully written. Given that I read an English translation from the Japanese, I imagine it would have been even more impressive in its original language.Despite what the book blurb says, and what other reviewers here on GR have said, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this book is NOT about BDSM. I read this because of Yoko Ogawa's well-regarded reputation as a writer of literary fiction (sorry but I am going to make that distinction), rather than as a writer of commercial, pulp, or erotic fiction. This book did not disappoint. It is certainly nothing to compare to E.L. James. Reading about poor young Mari and her lecherous ageing and cruel lover for sexual kicks would be about as satisfying as reading Proust for quick tips on dating.These two people, Mari and her Translator, whose name we never learn, are both lonely and desperate and living in a kind of emotional exile from themselves and everyone else. The Translator seems to find relief from his barely-contained rage only by expressing it in acts of sexual cruelty. For this, he needs a willing victim. Mari, whose beloved but alcoholic father died when she was eight, lives like an impoverished princess in her mother's economy castle, the Hotel Iris, a seaside accommodation that only comes to life for one season a year. Mari has been pulled out of high school by her mother, in order to help at the hotel. She has no friends, no boyfriends, no life of any kind outside the monotony of the hotel and her domineering mother, as well as her mother's friend and part-time maid, who steals from Mari. One can understand such a girl, at seventeen, feeling desperate to be seen and touched and cared for by someone—almost anyone, really—and most especially a man, since the only person who ever seems to have loved her deeply and unselfishly was her dead father. It is not so surprising that the girl seeks to escape her emotional pain via the infliction of enormous physical pain. In fact, she seems at times to seek the release of death but without having to accomplish the act herself. Girls like Mari are often found with slices on their arms, legs, and various hidden places on their bodies, where they cut themselves to gain the kind of release Mari seeks through brutally punishing sex acts with the Translator. Sometimes, these girls go too far, cutting too deeply or hitting an artery, and accidentally killing themselves. This sad scenario is not dissimilar to Mari's sex with the Translator. (And would release the same opiate-like beta endorphins that cutting does too.)So, yes, sex is the medium, but what is the message here? I don't think it's only about the lovers' high that can result from two people engaging in an edgy, consensual, painful but safe sexual act involving whipping, bondage, cutting, etc. This is very different. For one thing, there are no discussions about what kind of sex is going to happen and no real seeking of consent. No safe words. No out. Mari is repeatedly degraded, humiliated, injured, and nearly killed. This is not enacting anything. It's the real deal. The Translator translates her emotions for her, pulling each one out of her like a fisherman gutting a trout, and in turn, allowing her to see herself from a distance. In those moments, Mari reaches a level of ecstasy that a martyr's religious fervor might induce: she is finally free of herself and her pain, and she is unafraid of dying. Unlike cutters and heroin addicts, though, Mari needs an Other to impose his will on her. That's part of the experience she craves and, indeed, that is the slim connecting thread to other people who reach a transcendent "sub space" via submission to a Dominant, in BDSM terms. But Mari's needs go way beyond that of a robust psycho-sexual fetish. Really, she is too young and inexperienced to even know about that type of life and what it involves. Besides living a cloistered life, there is no internet (the original book was published in 1996) or even a mention of television shows she watches.Mari is a virgin when the Translator gets hold of her. Of course, she needs to be young and virginal to satisfy the dark, voracious god he feeds. And his violent acts must be repeated weekly because he, like Mari, can only be temporarily sated. The Translator is like a starving monster gorging on raw meat out of desperate necessity but without any apparent pleasure. A significant third person in this arrangement is the Translator's nephew, a young man who cannot speak, who briefly also becomes Mari's lover, which leads to the Translator trapping Mari on the island where he lives and nearly killing her in their final meeting. The young man represents many things, which might be left to the mind of the reader. I was never fully convinced either of his being the Translator's nephew or of the story that the two men tell Mari about the Translator's dead wife. This book is a slim volume that punches well above its weight. It's contemplative and melancholy and poetic, despite its gruesome violence (i.e. the sex acts enacted upon Mari by the Translator). There's nothing genuinely erotic or titillating or even sexy about the sex scenes. I don't think Okagawa was aiming for her readers to read her book in the bubble bath. * Quite frankly, the sex is terrifying, as the reader isn't sure from one moment to the next whether the young girl will survive. Up until the end, I expected the denouement to reveal that my narrator all along had been Mari's ghost, which would have been very Japanese in a way but also not unheard of in fiction.It's hard to say I enjoyed this book, though I did enjoy its eloquence, and I was deeply immersed in Mari's life. I cared about what happened to her. I cheered her on against her domineering mother and the wicked maid, and hoped for her to find happiness in the end. It is to Ogawa's credit that the mother and the maid, despite their unappealing and selfish personalities, are rendered subtly enough that one feels pity for them, too, in the end. The book is light on feelings. Everything is action and reflection without the sharing of feelings. The reader takes on all the feelings. This is a rich and moving experience. Though, it must be said, the feeling I most enjoyed was my own happiness at the death of the Translator at the end. He well and truly had it coming.* Having said that, I am aware that there are some folks out there who might get aroused by the sexual violence in this book. (There are no moments of straightforward intercourse, and one suspects the Translator is incapable of it.) There are people who get hot and bothered reading Lolita too. I don't claim to speak for everyone, but I will stand by my original claim that this book is not written as commercial erotica (as with E.L. James et al.) but as literature. It absolutely deserves that standing and the respect that goes with it.

  • Cam *tactile seeker*
    2019-01-17 01:10

    I had to change the rating of this book. Three stars really weren't enough for this compelling, powerful, sensual and at times very macabre little story.God, where have I been while all these incredibly talented new Japanese authors were publishing their books?! I was stuck with writers of the past (they're amazing) and didn't think I could've found such a beauty in an author so young! Ogawa Yoko's writing left me simply mesmerized: simple, yet polished, almost completely free of figures of speech and so, so far for resembling purple prose, but yet unmerciful, unrelenting, captivating, so dark, so disturbing but impossible to ignore and not to feel drawn to. Such a talent deserves to be praised over and over again.Mari is the protagonist of the story. She's a seventeen-year-old girl who works at her family's Hotel, the Iris of the title.She's the teenager with the most defined and determined nature I've ever found in a book. She lost her father when she was still a child, witnessed the gradual decline of her grandfather's sick body; she's obsessed with violent death, with its most gruesome aspects, often finding herself imagining how fascinating the decay of the human body is.Her only close relative still alive, her mother, is a strict, cold woman who exploits her daughter at the work place, denying her the fun and the normal, healthy life a girl so young should have.So maybe this is a study in human psychology. Mari has no men in her life, all her male relatives are dead. As a reaction against death, against its mysterious power to suddenly manifest itself and steal people from her life, a mechanism that's hard to understand and accept, she turns into this pain-seeking, violence-addicted young woman, whose most exciting thoughts revolve around provoking and defying death, breath control and hardcore bondage, all sorts of humiliation and degrading acts, like she doesn't deserve to be alive. Her "submissive" nature makes her notice a man who is thrown out of the hotel, one night. Referred only as the "translator", because he translates works from Russian into Japanese, she feels attracted to him, his authoritative and aggressive tone, sensing his "dominant" disposition.It doesn't matter that he's old enough to be her grandfather. They start a disturbing relationship, where she lusts after every single brutal act he inflicts on her.However, Mari is far from being a victim, here. She craves it, she can only orgasms in those moments, she's simply made that way. It might be because of her past, or the lack of love from her mother, we don't know for sure. She's just incapable of feeling anything, besides dark and fucked up desires. She also has this irresistible dark humor. It might sound as an oxymoron, but I laughed a lot while reading this book, even at times when I should've probably cried or felt shocked. It made the book even more charming to me.The whole story carries an oppressive atmosphere of approaching tragedy. You can't help but knowing it since the first pages of the book. That's why the absolutely chilling, non-romantic, anti-climatic ending leaves you rather full of questions about Mari's future, more than heartbroken over the turn of the events. Hotel Iris is not for the faint of heart, nor for too sensitive people.There's heavy BDSM here, graphic descriptions of corpses, death and sex. But if you have a strong stomach and are looking for beautiful prose, original plot and an interesting, contemporary author, this is the right book for you.

  • MTK
    2019-01-13 01:35

    Ειλικρινά δυσκολεύτηκα με αυτό το βιβλίο. Κατ' αρχάς το αγόρασα αφού είχα διαβάσει το "Ο αγαπημένος μαθηματικός τύπος του καθηγητή", ένα τρυφερό βιβλίο για τη σχέση μεταξύ ενός ηλικικωμένου μαθηματικού, της οικιακής του βοηθού και του μικρού γιού της. Το "Ξενοδοχείο Ίρις" είναι σα να το έχει γράψει άλλος άνθρωπος. Δεν είναι μόνο ότι περιγράφει την αρρωστημένη σεξουαλική σχέση ενός διεστραμμένου ηλικιωμένου με ένα ευάλωτο δεκαεπτάχρονο κορίτσι, είναι ότι η ηρωίδα (το βιβλίο είναι γραμμένο σε πρώτο πρόσωπο από την δική της οπτική) αποτελεί την ενσάρκωση των φαντασιώσεων κάθε σεξουαλικού εγκληματία. Έχετε ακούσει ή διαβάσει τις σκέψεις ενός παιδεραστή που ισχυρίζεται ότι τα ανήλικα θύματά του τον αγαπούν και τον θέλουν και ότι δεν κάνει τίποτα κακό ασελγόντας σε δεκάχρονα; Ε, το βιβλίο αυτό σχεδόν επιβεβαιώνει πανυγυρικά την αντίληψη ότι είναι δυνατό κάτι τέτοιο. Εντάξει, υπερβάλλω. Η ηρωίδα δεν είναι είναι νήπιο, αλλά δεκαεπτά χρονών. Αλλά εξακολουθεί να είναι μια μοναχική έφηβη, απομονωμένη και καταπιεσμένη από μια μητέρα η συμπεριφορά της οποίας αγγίζει τα όρια της κακοποίησης, τουλάχιστον της ψυχολογικής. Συναντά έναν άνθρωπο για τον οποίο από την πρώτη στιγμή γνωρίζει ότι είναι σεξουαλικός σαδιστής και αισθάνεται έντονη μαζοχιστική έλξη για αυτόν, τον αναζητά και πέφτει στην αγκαλιά του με τη θέλησή της. Και όλο αυτό παρουσιάζεται ως, αν όχι φυσιολογικό, μια αποδεκτή απόκλιση και η κοινωνία είναι κακιά και δεν καταλαβαίνει το μεγαλείο του έρωτά τους. Είναι αναμφισβήτητα καλογραμμένο. Αλλά του έβαλα ένα αστέρι γιατι η κοινωνική ομαλοποίηση τέτοιων καταστάσεων είναι επικίνδυνη, ακόμη και στο όνομα της τέχνης.

  • Tony
    2018-12-22 17:30

    Recommended for those too self-conscious to be seen with a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. There's even a blurb on the front cover from Hilary Mantel, serving as a literary beard. And actually, there is much in the writing to recommend: a minimalist style that paints mood well, for instance. Yet, the story, told well, requires some suspension of reality. The images of foreshadowing are not subtle. Our narrator is a seventeen year-old girl, obsessed with a much, much older sadistic man. This is not play-acting scenes. I'm no BDSM expert, but the infliction of pain in this story seemed moved by anger, a flipping-out, not control in an exchange. But as I said, what do I know?

  • Anasylvia
    2019-01-22 00:17

    "I'm sorry. Forgive me" They were words I had said over and over to my mother since childhood. Though I'd had no idea what forgiveness meant I had cried for it nonetheless.Well, this was a bit dark. Scratch that this was all dark, maybe with a few gray tints. I don't mind dark. In fact, I like it, however, I usually take it in large quantities with my horror, mental psychological fictions, and poetry. My dark reads are hardly ever in my literary fiction, erotica, or romance. It's not that I don't like it there, it's just that I've never been compelled by the books I've read. Most of the erotica or romance novels involving dark themes have walked a fine line between romance and rape, and as a result leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Hotel Iris did not."I was confused and afraid, and yet somewhere deep inside I was praying that voice would someday give me an order, too." This is Mari's first reaction to hearing the voice of the man she dubs the Translator. Right there the reader is privy to the essence of her character. Against her wishes and without quite understanding it herself, she likes being told what to do. Craves it even. Mari is seventeen and works at the Hotel Iris, her family's seaside hotel. Her mother runs the hotel with a frugal rigidness. Mari is her employer first and daughter second. One night a guest of the hotel causes a scene with a prostitute and is promptly kicked out. That guest turns out to be the Translator. The Translator is a much older enigmatic man who makes a living as a Russian translator. He lives alone on a neighboring island, and his isolation is as intriguing to Mari as it is mysterious. She finds herself enthralled and unable to stay away from him. Soon the two start an illicit relationship where Mari's wish is granted and the Translator commands her to follow his every whim. Many of these scenes can be quite disturbing. Yoko Ogawa's doesn't spare her readers any details into both the physical and psychological workings of her characters. I will emphasis this is book is not for the fainthearted. I cringed several times, however, I did not have the urge to look away. Many of the books that I have read that tackle this touchy subject matter, have failed for me because they portray these deeply disturbed characters, yet they don't offer any reasoning behind it other than. "He was hot," With Mari, I knew why she liked being tied,whipped, humiliated because Ogawa doesn't tell us she shows us. He had undressed me with great skill, his movements no less elegant for all their violence. Indeed, the more he shamed me, the more refined he became — like a perfumer plucking the petals from a rose, a jeweler prying open an oyster for its pearl.Does Mari glorify what happens to her? Yes. Is she an active participate? Yes. Should we judge what other people are into? No.There is never a blurred line between the Translator and Mari, and this is why I could appreciate their story. This might be difficult for some readers to stomach. However, Ogawa doesn't so much expect her readers to suspend disbelief, but she makes them want to understand her characters and their minds, and for me it worked. What I loved most about this book was the writing. Ogawa's writing is smooth yet simple. She doesn't try to twist anything into poetry though it often times comes out like that anyway, and I loved it. All the hard gritty nuances of the story are laid bare for the reader. I fond myself glued to the writing and its dreamlike tone which carries on a serene feel throughout this dark story Despite the BDSM troupe, this book is not solely about sex. It's a story of loneliness and a psychological look at the mind of girl whose life has never been her own. It portrays her gaining some amount of control over her desires, even if it’s ironically handing that control over to someone else. Overall, this is not for everyone. However, if you're looking for something dark twisted and brutally honest then let Hotel Iris surprise you.

  • Adrienne
    2019-01-08 01:38

    Oo this was good , in fact if I'm honest it was more than good it was excellent. Although not what I'd normally expect from a book labelled as mainstream fiction for me the theme is one of finding who you really, truly are through humiliation. That would lead you to believe that the story falls into the erotic/porn genre but that would be a mistake, because the humiliation as an act is not overly dwelled upon, it's a natural progression of the story, a coming of age story.Mari works at the family hotel, she is dotted upon yet dominated by her mother, this gives Mari a conflicting message of who she is, loved child or loathed?, beautiful daughter or plain and ugly?. She becomes curious about a customer of the hotel and forms a relationship with him which in many ways reflects the relationship she has with her mother. Her new friend shows his love for her in ways which Mari easily accepts,it's here where some readers may struggle because unless you understand Mari and who she is you miss the beauty of their relationship, if you query why she allows him to do the things he does, or ask yourself how could she allow herself to be degraded like this,then you've missed the point. As I mentioned before the story does not overly dwell upon humiliation, neither is there any sex, the story is just that of a young girl and her day to day life during one summer, it's filled with stories about the hotel, it's customers and staff, her mother and her mothers friends, the beach, nights out at the fair and observations about the weather. I found the whole story,which is written from first person narrative (something I love because I immediately feel intimate with the character) to be beautifully executed, the writing is both delicate and elegant,uncluttered it flows and pulls the reader along with it. This is a deeply moving story made even more so if the reader understands the beauty in the humiliation. If you don't though it's still a great read although you may find the aspects I found beautful more disturbing and therefore see Maris experience in a slightly diffrent way.Notea coming of age story but not YA

  • Melissa Chung
    2019-01-09 17:38

    What a strange and twisted piece of literature. I didn't expect this kind of story from Yoko Ogawa. In truth, since I only read one short story book by her, I guess I can't know an author through only one written work. On goodreads 2 stars means it was okay, but in my personal star ratings 2 stars means I didn't like it. So I'm giving this book 3 stars. I am glad I read it, but I would never re-read it.Hotel Iris is about an old and run down hotel located on the coast of Japan. The hotel used to be owned by Mari's grandfather and now is run by her mother. It is mostly booked to capacity during the summer when the tourists come. But the rest of the year it is quiet and slow.Mari is an only child and is 17. Her mother has forced her to quit school to work at the hotel full time. At the beginning of the book there is a disturbance in one of the rooms and a prostitute comes screaming down the hall and stairs. Yelling profanities at a gentleman. Mari becomes obsessed with the man at once. His voice when he shouts "Shut up whore!" stuns Mari. For some reason she wants to hear this voice over and over. One day while running errands for her mother, Mari spots this strange and interesting man. She ends up following him around town when he confronts her. This is the day, they go from strangers to more than acquaintances. I had no idea when I picked this book up that it would be an Erotica. Not only is it Erotica, but it's with a minor and a very old man. Mari is of course his submissive and is badly humiliated in his presence over and over. Which she weirdly enough enjoys. I have nothing against S/M, but when it's with a teen and very old man it kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. Also the way it wasn't a "loving" S/M relationship was worse. I'm sure you could willingly allow your partner to be dominant and there are safe words and such. This book does not allow for that, so, it was quite disturbing.If you are interested in reading a fast paced and strange take on S/M with an Asian flare pick this book up.

  • Nek0 Neha (BiblioNyan)
    2019-01-06 19:15

    Hotel Iris is not a book that everyone can stomach. It can be rather dark and at times brutal, but if you look past the words what you will find is a very deep piece of literature with themes pertaining to sorrow, innocence, and the desire to feel like your existence actually matters.Yoko Ogawa's prose is so wholly poignant that it will leave you breathless, exhilarated, and astonished. Paintings of vivid emotions and profound longing are swept onto the pages with the use of very simple language that still manages to leave you feeling like you are a part of something extraordinary. The story itself is about two individuals who meet at a time in their lives when they have absolutely nothing else left to keep them feeling alive. You have a man whose grief makes him want to twist everything into the horrible ugliness that he feels inside and a young girl who just wishes to replace her own longing and agony with something tangible, something that will substantiate her loneliness in the world. Hotel Iris is a wondrous tragedy wrapped in the poetic irony of solitude. It's beautiful, sensuously erotic, and elegantly austere. I loved every page and every word of this novel.

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2019-01-06 22:24

    I'm going to go ahead and give this one a big ol' NOPE. I was on board, if bored, until the point when the 67 year old male love (?) interest starts sensually oiling up his mute & no-tongued nephew's body on the beach in front of his 17 year old female lover Mari, making her jealous -- like, really: we're approaching the level of demented for demented's sake by this point. The old man lover is kind of a terrible person in many ways. Mari is turned on by him because she wants to be submissive and to her it seems there are no limits to the ways in which he can abuse her. When he watches a trapped mouse with its tail stuck in the door of a cage suffer trying to pull free and then drowns it, I was done with him and with this book.I am no stranger to the concept of loving one's dysfunction. I understand how the pieces of the characters fit together and also, Metaphors!, and how traumatized or beaten down people transfer their feelings into sexual behavior. Hotel Iris was still the reading equivalent, to me, of watching an awful piece of performance art. There is the sense of not being able to roll my eyes back far enough.

  • Didi
    2019-01-11 20:30

    This is the first book I’ve read by Yoko Ogawa. I’m not often drawn to Japanese literature but since my book club chose The Housekeeper + The Professor as one of our seven reads for 2015-2016, I decided to buy this one too. The story is about seventeen year old Mari who works in her mother’s shabby little hotel by the seaside called Hotel Iris. The voice of Mari narrates the story in a chilling honesty that is often staggering. She is trapped in the hotel and isn’t allowed to live life very much. So, it isn’t surprising that she is searching for something more, however the violent humiliating relationship she has with the translator is unexpected and odious.... Click link to continue

  • Kirsty
    2019-01-07 23:19

    I had read two of Japanese author Yoko Ogawa's books before making my foray into Hotel Iris: The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Revenge. The Times Literary Supplement writes that in this particular novel, 'Image by perfect image, we are led down into a mysterious and gripping universe, simultaneously beautiful and terrifying'. The Independent goes on to say: 'This is a brave territory for Ogawa, and she manages it with sharp focus; she creates moments of breathtaking ugliness, often when least expected... but also sometimes a longing that is touching and tender'. Hotel Iris was first published in Japan in 1996, and in its English translation in 2010.Hotel Iris, the third of Ogawa's books to be translated into English, centres upon Mari, a seventeen-year-old who works on the front desk in a 'crumbling, seaside hotel on the coast of Japan'. One night, a middle-aged man and a prostitute are 'ejected from his room'. Mari finds herself infatuated with the man's voice. Just so you, dear reader, are warned, what follows is rather harrowing. After several clandestine meetings, Mari is drawn to his home, where he 'initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure'.Mari is as perceptive a narrator as Ogawa is a writer; of the prostitute, she observes: 'Frizzy hair hung at her wrinkled neck, and thick, shiny lipstick had smeared onto her cheeks. Her mascara had run, and her left breast hung out of her blouse where the buttons had come undone. Pale pink thighs protruded from a short skirt, marked in places with red scratches. She had lost one of her cheap plastic high heels'. When her male companion first appears, the following is described rather lyrically: 'The voice seemed to pass through us, silencing the whole hotel. It was powerful and deep, but with no trace of anger. Instead, it was almost serene, like a hypnotic note from a cello or a horn'.The novel is told from Mari's perspective, and we learn an awful lot about her. At first, she comes across as a little naive, but she is soon cast under the translator's spell, and allows him to do whatever he wants to her: 'Indeed, the more he shamed me, the more refined he became - like a perfumer plucking the petals from a rose, a jeweler prying open an oyster for its pearl'. Like the Professor in Ogawa's aforementioned novel, we are never given the man's first name; rather, he is identified only by his profession, and known therefore as 'the translator'. The passages which include him tend to be rather sinister at times: 'The translator's hand was soft. So soft it seemed my hand would sink completely into his. This hand had done so many things to me - stroked my hair, made my tea, stripped me, bound me - and with each new act it had been reborn as something different'. He is a peculiar and rather complex character, who made me feel uncomfortable throughout. Ogawa has included an interesting contradiction when writing about him; whilst he revels in violent acts with her, his correspondence to Mari expresses a real tenderness.As in her other books, some of Ogawa's prose in Hotel Iris is deceptively simple. The novel feels markedly different from The Housekeeper and the Professor, which has a wonderful, quiet beauty. There is violence in Hotel Iris, and I found a couple of the scenes incredibly disturbing, something which I was not expecting. Perhaps it just asserts what a diverse and skilled writer Ogawa is that she can write two very different novels in so confident a manner. Hotel Iris is, I would say, far closer in its themes and occurrences to Ogawa's short story collection, Revenge.Hotel Iris is a continually interesting and unsettling novella, which becomes rather disturbing in places. I tend to shy away from such novels, and whilst I did enjoy this overall, and have rated it highly, I cannot help but be glad that my usual reading fare is unlike this. I found the reading process rather exhausting, despite the fact that I easily read it over a single afternoon. Well plotted and multilayered, with a cleverly rendered ending, Hotel Iris is well worth seeking out, but it's not something which I would recommend for the faint of heart!

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-01-10 20:15

    It's no secret that I like weird. I like confronting. And I like erotic. Hotel Iris is darkly erotic - and if you haven't read anything erotic before, don't confuse "erotic" with "sexy" or "sensuous". They don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, especially when you get a book like Hotel Iris. Erotica is more about the psychology behind our desires and motivations, and understanding our psyche and how we tick - our inherited sense of guilt and shame, especially.But I don't want to give you the wrong impression. Hotel Iris isn't erotica, it's fiction that deals with sexual awakening in a form that most of us would consider repugnant and beyond our ken, or at the very least makes us uncomfortable. It doesn't make me uncomfortable in the slightest, but this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. The story is narrated by seventeen year old Mari, who works in her mother's hotel on the coast of Japan. It is just her and her mother, who doesn't seem to like Mari much and sees her only as a doll she can dress up, lacquer her hair, and parade to impress people. Mari secretly yearns for her mother's forgiveness, though for what she can barely articulate. One night, while Mari is on the front desk, there is a ruckus between two guests, the guests in room 202: a man and a prostitute. When they're kicked out of the hotel, Mari hears his deep, commanding voice and it thrums deep inside her. She wants nothing more than to be commanded by that voice. The man himself is old and unassuming, timid even in person - or so he seems when Mari begins to get to know him. He is an impoverished translator of Russian into Japanese, living by himself in a small cottage on an island off the coast. When Mari goes to his home, they both become different people: he becomes someone full of confidence and demands, and she will do anything to please him.I got copies of Hotel Iris and The Housekeeper and the Professor at the same time, but I decided to read this one first because its dark subject matter instantly appealed to me. I am drawn to these books that let me in to people's most secret desires, to feel alongside them and understand them, in the privacy of a book's pages. I love the intensity that comes with darker subject matter. That said, I didn't find this as dark or as confronting as I expected (when you have Story of O as your benchmark, everything seems tame by comparison). The prose is clean, clear, confident, economical and perfectly balanced, a style that appeals to me. There's no waffling, no heavy-handed adjectives, no flowery descriptions or obscure reflections. There's a lot that isn't said, not in a way that leaves you confused about what's going on, but in the way like you're blind, or hearing muffled voices through a door - you're allowed to see what Mari wants you to see, but not to get too close. It's hard to describe, but I was never fully satisfied, like I got to lick the icing but not eat the cake. And yet, I'm not unhappy, and the story is one that transports you.My senses seem sharpest when the guests are all checked in, settled in their rooms getting ready for bed. From my stool behind the desk, I can hear and smell and feel everything happening in the hotel. I can't say I have much experience or even any real desires of my own, but just by shutting myself up behind the desk, I can imagine every scene being played out by the people spending the night at the Iris. Then I erase them one by one and find a quiet place to lie down and sleep. (p.18)He had undressed me with great skill, his movements no less elegant for all their violence. Indeed, the more he shamed me, the more refined he became - like a perfumer plucking the petals from a rose, a jeweler prying open an oyster for its pearl. (p.93)It's really quite beautiful, but it left me under-nourished, wanting more. It's such a short book, a brief story, with the hint of Mari ripening and breaking free of her oppressive mother at the end, but it's a sad story too, a story of a sad man who lost his wife to a tragic scenario, whose psyche I am fascinated by in the glimpses we get of his dual nature. There's so much going on here, and yet hardly anything - I will want to re-read this: knowing where the narrative is going, I will be able to stop and soak in the nuances, the connotations and "pry open the oyster for its pearl." Okay so I can't really use that language myself without smirking, but Ogawa can write like that and it's perfect.The underlying point of the novel isn't highly original, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Mari sees herself through her mother's eyes, who contradictorily praises her beauty to everyone but makes Mari herself feel ugly and unwanted. When the translator (who remains nameless throughout the novel) abuses her in his cottage, both verbally and physically, she takes it on as a just punishment, a way to revel in what she thinks is her true nature. There's never any clear evidence that the two actually have sex - she says at one point towards the end that she has never seen him naked (his sockless feet is the closest she comes) - though he does perform oral sex on her. It's rather like, sex isn't what Ogawa wants us to see, but the deep scars we inflict on ourselves - Mari's self-hatred or lack of confidence in herself; the translator's sense of loss, guilt and loneliness. They aren't games being played out between these two. The translator becomes the more complicated, interesting character - Mari I feel I understood, but he is more tricky. Our perception of him is limited to what Mari notices and thinks and relays on to us. I really wanted to understand him, but in the end he remained enigmatic.One of the disappointments, for me, was that even though this is set in Japan with Japanese characters, it had no real Japanese flavour. Having lived there for three years, I know they don't eat ham and eggs for breakfast! How much of it is the way Ogawa wrote it - which reminded me of how many Australians write, untied to any particular place so it could be almost anywhere - or the way the translator translated it? I admire translators, but I worry about translator interference. Now, it could be simply because it's a hotel, one that caters to a lot of foreign tourists - though that is my assumption; it's never actually stated that they're foreign, just that they're tourists. And the Japanse are all tourists in their own country, because they love to explore it and they rarely get any decent time off to travel overseas. Anyway, while there were certain cultural aspects coming through, it was easy to forget that this was a Japanese story, set in Japan, with Japanese characters, which, to me, was a loss.

  • Aya Hamza
    2018-12-31 00:19

    Holly crap. This book is weird. So weird.So, this book is about a 17 years old "Mari" who is in love with a (60-70)-ish years old sadistic man.It is really creepy how Mari is in love with this man in spite of the things he does to her every time.The book is in Mari's POV so it expressed how she felt toward that man and how she couldn't wait to see him again, which was shocking to me.I heard people say this is kinda "Japanese Fifty Shades of Grey" and I skipped this one. I don't know if that is the reason why I am shocked after reading this book. I didn't enjoy the story and how weird it is, but the writing style is beautiful and it kept me engaged till the end.

  • Nate D
    2018-12-27 23:39

    Yoko Ogawa has a fine touch for simple well-formed description and place sense, but this minimalist BDSM love story lacked a necessary complexity and depth to me. I picked this up at the library on whim after a quick blurb scan that suggested that it is an unsettling story set in a seaside hotel, which it was, but it became obvious within the first few pages that it is more specifically the story of a bored, isolated, 17-year-old girl submitting (in the full sense of the word) to a relationship with a man 50 years older than her. We get a couple obvious plot pointers as to why she's drawn to him (and they're utterly predictable), but otherwise there's almost no psychological nuance here. Ogawa keeps this entirely on the surface, actions and basic emotional states of our 17-year-old narrator. It's almost interesting then, as such a cold study of the power dynamic the couple falls into -- I think stories like these are interesting basically just for exposing or subverting the power dynamics of all relationships -- but in fact there's little subversion here, just an older man and young inexperienced girl. Ogawa plays this uncomfortably straight, which is perhaps the entire point and challenge of it. But not having read anything else by her, it's honestly difficult to tell. The authorial psychology here, like that of the protagonist, is almost entire flat. And if we deny that authorial psychology has any role in the finished work, there's almost nothing left here at all.

  • Justin
    2018-12-27 23:29

    Hmm. I won an advance copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads, and was eager to read it, given its somewhat mysterious blurb. This brief book is lyrical in its presentation and fearless in its exploration of the characters' inner workings, but it's not exactly a pleasant journey.The story takes place in the eponymous hotel, a small, family-run establishment in a Japanese seaside village. Mari, the seventeen-year-old daughter of the proprietress, runs the front desk and takes care of the hotel's busy work, leading a lackluster life and enduring a stilted relationship with her demanding mother. One night, however, she is witness to a violent fight between a prostitute and one of the hotel's patrons, and despite the awkwardness of the situation, finds herself inexplicably drawn to the older man. After meeting him again in the village, she finds herself drawn into a dark and complicated affair, with pain and humiliation taking their place next to affection as they grow closer. She begins to uncover unsettling rumors about the man's past, however, and as tourist season in the village draws to a close, their unique relationship steers into dangerous and potentially tragic waters.There is not a lot of complexity in the plot, here. The book (more of an extended short story, really) focuses solely on Mari, the elderly translator, and the course of their relationship. There are a number of sidelong glances at other characters and stories: the Iris of the hotel's name, the hotel's interfering maid, the residents of the village, etc. But these things, to me, only exist to add color and tone to the story. Ogawa is particularly skilled at this, too. Hotel Iris is awash in sights, sounds, and smells that jump at the reader. Being a translation, the story is also prominently Japanese in both its dialogue and its general aesthetic. All of this makes for a visceral read; this story definitely provokes an emotional response. The emotions it evokes are definitely not for everyone, though. Ogawa pulls no punches in exploring the sadomasochistic energy between Mari and the translator, and while the book is not necessarily pornographic, it is quite explicit at times both in the goings-on between the two and in Mari's reactions and thought processes. This latter element makes for a fascinating read, sometimes. My issue, though, is that the eros here is somewhat tinged with elements of the bizarre and disturbing, the same way all Japanese eros can sometimes seem to Westerners. While I personally find it interesting to turn the typical romance story on its head by examining a consensual dominant/submissive relationship, movies like Secretary still stay within the boundaries of consenting adults. Hotel Iris blurs even those lines. Again, the book is visceral, and from the pen of a writer with a remarkable gift for transporting the reader, but not necessarily pleasant to read.This is an interesting diversion for those who are looking for a short, dark, and intense read. Enough cannot be said about the beauty and simplicity of Ogawa's prose. But handle with caution, ye of delicate sensibilities.

  • Elizabeth Reuter
    2019-01-21 21:16

    One of them most disturbing books I’ve ever read, and probably the most disturbing in the last several years, reading Hotel Iris left me feeling depressed. The story of an unloved girl trapped in a relationship with an old man and the facsimile of love he provides her through grotesque S&M brutalization, Hotel Iris flips back and forth between scenes of our protagonist being yelled at or ignored by her mother and scenes of her (joyful) humiliation and degradation at her lover’s hands.However, I’m sure Ogawa meant those scenes to be disturbing, and I have to give her credit for their effectiveness. The focus was never sex; it was always the brutality, humiliation, and emotional manipulation that occurred before or between sexual encounters. The sterile callousness of our protagonist’s mother, and the lonely, friendless, barren landscape the story is set in, makes it easy to feel how bleak life looks to our heroine, and from there, how the intense emotions her lover evokes became welcome.Our heroine never comes to realize how she’s being used and abused by what’s obviously a serial pedophile, but Ogawa shows us. In particular, there’s one scene where the lover finds a trapped mouse, and the mouse’s agonized squeals as its tail is ripped away by the gleeful lover are interspaced with the sounds of whip strokes as he beats our protagonist. She finds the sound “beautiful,” so lost is she, but as a reader it’s impossible to miss the symbolism of an animal dying in horrible pain at the same time that our protagonist is being so defiled. She is the victim mentality, and her lack of understanding of her own sickness, or ability to get away from it, is the saddest, most disturbing part of all.-Elizabeth ReuterAuthor, The Demon of Renaissance Drive

  • the gift
    2018-12-27 21:28

    this is a woman who has read The Story of O… and decided on a local, Japanese version. short, sexy, sweet, and perverse. it has likely limited target readers. it works well for those so inclined. there is something romantic in love so impossible to express... except in playing s/m power games, though there is no pornographic sex, though it is all through the voice of the willing victim...

  • lazycalm
    2018-12-23 22:36

    Still stoked by these simple and sweet passages. Such an innocent approach on heavy and dark subjects (BDSM, lolita complex, self-hatred, loneliness, etc).But since I met you I have learned the real meaning of waiting. I have experienced the indescribable joy of waiting for you, there in front of the flower clock in the plaza, and I am inordinately happy, even before you appear to me.I watch the people coming up from the shore road, staring at every girl with even the slightest resemblance to you, and then turning away when I realize my mistake. I perform this ritual over and over, never growing tired. I would gladly repeat my error a thousand times, two thousand times, if it means finding you, you who are wholly unique. Finally, I am at a loss to distinguish between the desire to see you as soon as possible and the pleasant prospect of waiting forever.On the day we went to the circus, I had the great joy of waiting for three hours and twenty minutes. And still today, I find myself dreaming of you as you came running up to me that day, perspiring profusely, with the setting sun shining at your back.

  • Calzean
    2018-12-31 00:11

    The writing has a hypnotic cadence as it tells the story of Mari a 17 yo girl and her affair with a 60 yo man. In public the man is polite, timid and treats her with great respect, although has a violent temper. In private the pair act out a relationship of dominance and sadomasochism. She goes naked and undergoes all forms of degradation. He never takes off his suit. Only Mari has a name. The other characters are the Translator, his nephew, Mari's mother and the maid. Mari lives in the family hotel by the seaside that could be located anywhere. Her mother dominates and is only interested in money. The maid is a kleptomaniac. The Translator's nephew has no tongue. It's a book where no one is what they seem. My only problem is the sallowness in the characters.

  • J.
    2019-01-08 17:14

    I kind of liked this in spite of itself. And by itself I mean the unnecessarily self-loathing bits about bondage and humiliation.Ogawa has a writerly, palpable sense of the physics of things, the tone, texture and color things that we absorb but don't necessarily process. And uncharacteristically, for fiction that can manage that kind of understanding of things, this also has an unerring sense of pace and timing that unfolds naturally, with perfect ease and conviction.That the conception here required those in-spite-of-itself aspects-- left this reader feeling that 'should I just close the book here' impulse, in passages where the proceedings were overly violent, overly self-destructive. I'm not sure that the story really, really required those extremes.

  • Kate
    2019-01-01 18:22

    4/5starsI read this in a single sitting and holy crap I enjoyed it WAY more than I thought I would.This book follows a young, 17 year old girl named Mari who lives at a little hotel which she helps run with her mother and a maid whose a kleptomaniac. Mari lives a simple life, not going to school, not having many friends, and just helping around Hotel Iris day after day. Until one night when a strange man and a prostitute cause a commotion that shakes her to her bones - and she meets the man again on the streets of her town. From there, their relationship forms.I had heard this described as "Japan's Fifty Shades of Grey" which had me intrigued - Fifty Shades is pretty shocking, but Japan usually makes things that are shocking also just absolutely weird as shit. So, it peaked my interest. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) this wasn't the absolutely shocking, disgusting story I was expecting. Sure, it was creepy as shit that Mari was 17 and this man was 58? 68? I couldn't seem to peg down which one, but still - a VERY big age gap between them, as well as some of the stuff described that occurred between them was pretty weird but not SHOCKING like I'd expected.Also, I wasn't expecting the great stories and backstories we got from the characters. We learn so much about Mari and her family, her father in particular, and her mother. We also learn so much about the man (the translator) and his wife, and who he was. I especially enjoyed this book when the man's nephew came to visit!Overall this was pleasantly enjoyable, and Yoko Ogawa has a BEAUTIFUL writing style. I'd probably recommend reading this in the summer though rather than the winter, although I also enjoyed how warm I felt reading about the beach and summer vibes this story had, but it would be a nice beach read (lol, I guess not NICE, but it'd fit the atmosphere? i guess?) and also this is DEFINITELY only for mature readers!!

  • Rebecka
    2019-01-14 00:10

    (3,5 stars) Another book that's a bit difficult to rate for me. 3 stars can seem low; I actually enjoyed this book a lot, but I thought I would enjoy it even more. I am always a bit afraid of "kink" books, since there's a fair risk they will just contain a series of colorful sex scenes and little else. As I passed the 25% mark of this book, I believed it would really be an awesomely crafted story which had the best of both worlds. However, it did actually lean a little too much towards the mundane, the absolutely dreadfully boring daily life of Mari and the weird relationship between her an the Translator, and the pervy parts were toned down just a tiny bit too much.I dislike and like the exact same thing when it comes to this book! I like that you get to spend much more time in Mari's head, kind of (but not really) contemplating what on earth she's doing with this 65 year old, rather than just being tied up on the floor with her. However, the tied-up-on-the-floor scenes had some seriously lost potential, which can be felt if you go back to the first one, which I thought was very powerful.Aside from these not very clear thoughts, I can, however, say that Ogawa has structured the novel very well. The way the kink (I can't really say sex) scenes are expertly blended into the narrative is very smooth - it's not just an A to B to C kind of narrative where pages turn as time passes. This goes back and forth seamlessly. Also, everything in this book is very morally questionable, of course, but that has nothing to do with how good the book is. The Russian translation was good, if perhaps a bit repetitive, but that is probably because the original is repetitive.