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Hotel World

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,117 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews

Five people: four are living; three are strangers; two are sisters; one, a teenage hotel chambermaid, has fallen to her death in a dumbwaiter. But her spirit lingers in the world, straining to recall things she never knew. And one night all five women find themselves in the smooth plush environs of the Global Hotel, where the intersection of their very d
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 2002 by Anchor (first published 2001)
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Sophie I want to say the winter of 1999. It's not really relevant, though. No current events are mentioned.
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MJ Nicholls
Oct 02, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, hoots-mon, distaff
Another astonishing piece of work from Ms. Smith. Is there anything this writer can’t do? I have domestic duties and a rumbling stomach at present, so this review might be brief, and gushing. But here goes.

I love Ali Smith. I love Ali Smith because she moves me, and being a man, I’m not supposed to be moved by books. I’m supposed to be stirred by the raging masculinity of men in battle: the sound of gunfire in the crisp Vienna air as heads rain down upon the blood-soaked streets. But no. This pi
This is the fourth book by Ali Smith I’ve read - which is interesting because if there’s a number Smith likes, it’s the number four - her books are sometimes divided into four sections and a couple have titles containing four words - How to Be Both, There But for the.

This book has four female characters, Else, Lisa, Penny and Claire. Each character has her own section which is written as an interior monologue. Each section is connected directly or indirectly to the hotel where a fifth character
Lynne King
The fall occurs at dawn.
Albert Camus

If I had not read MJ’s excellent review (, I would never have purchased this book as firstly, I had never heard of the author and secondly, this didn’t sound like my type of book at all. That’s the “problem” with Goodreads; there is too much choice and I seem to be continuously stumbling across new authors.

All one can possibly do in my case is to compare my purchase with a rather prized sweet in the sweet shop and to
Feb 10, 2013 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
February 2013
hooooooo what a fall what a soar what a plummet what a dash into dark into light what a plunge what a glide thud crash what a drop what a rush what a swoop what a fright what a mad hushed skirl what a smash mush mash-up broke and gashed what a heart in my mouth what an end.
What a life.
What a time.
What I felt. Then. Gone.
(Hotel World, p. 3)

Four girls, one cup ghost. Sara died in a dumbwaiter while working at a Global Hotel, Clare is her sister, Lise works reception, Else be
Paul Bryant
Jul 04, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the author's mother
Shelves: novels
Ali Smith gets a lot of love from the reviewers (the real ones, not us hobbledehoys lurking under our Goodreads rock). She likes to be experimental. Or she does in this novel, anyway. Unfortunately "experimental" techniques provoke the train-spotter in me. Oh, I say to myself, there's some James Joyce. And here's Virginia Woolf. A soupcon of B S Johnson, and - yes ma'am - a nod to Donald Barthelme. Ali Smith drags in some heavy comparisons, thereby, and doesn't do herself any favours. This there ...more
A character in Hotel World talks of manipulating people with stories. She'll tell lies to them about her life, stories designed to evoke sympathy and pity: she is an orphan, she was neglected by her parents, she was sexually abused by a family friend. The stories are tearjerkers, tropes designed to pull the heartstrings. Someone tells you a story like that and, unless you have no heart, you have to say, "Oh my god! How horrible for you!"

Well, my problem with Hotel World was that it felt exactly
Nov 01, 2015 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Ali Smith's other books
Shelves: book-club
2.5 stars

Because it was October, I had campaigned for my book club to read something scary, but I was overruled and we ended up with Hotel World as the selection. I didn’t get my first choice, which would have been Frankenstein, although I did get a ghost story, but a sad one, not a scary one. Told, as Ali Smith’s stories often are, by different characters in alternating sections, the language and narrative structure of the book are creative, sometimes experimental, which is also in keeping wit
Jan 20, 2013 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought this at the Strand on my heartbreak tour of NYC 2002. I enjoyed the fluid presence, the floating questions of motive, most of which were left unanswered. There is something spectral about these damaged souls. While walking in London eight months later, I found myself glimpsing those souls' reflections.
Barry Pierce
A good, but nowhere near as good as her others, novel from one of my favourite authors Ali Smith. This is probably her most depressing novel, I mean, one of the narrators is literally a dead person. All the action takes place around a hotel, The Global Hotel. Even from the name of the hotel you can tell that this novel is full of metaphor for the human condition. Usually I like that sort of this but this one didn't do it for me. I'm kinda disappointed but I can't be mad at Ali. She's a brilliant ...more
The lives of five women intersect at a hotel in an unnamed English city. This is the kind of book for which the term literary fiction was invented: Smith is totally getting her Virginia Woolf on, with steam-of-consciousness being just the tip of the iceberg. There were parts that I found really quite moving—the opening section is told from the point of view of a ghost, and I am sucker for stuff like that—but often I found all the stylistic fanfare frustrating. After a certain point, it makes me ...more
N W James
Feb 23, 2008 N W James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ughmakeitstop
The plus side is that its probably my favorite book that's even been on the Booker Prize short list.

The bad side is that's not saying much.

Let me just start with 31 pages of unpunctuated stream of conscience writing. I was actually going along all right until I hit that character's chapter. I lasted three pages and skipped to the end. If I wanted to read something that was supposed to just alter my emotions, I'd read poetry. Just tell me the frickin story.

Then the last chapter was this nebulous
Nick Davies
Apr 18, 2016 Nick Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In style, this was very much like the two previous Ali Smith novels that I have read. Smith writes first person characters very well, inner monologues, esp. in the context of people going through unusual situations. The prose was beautiful, and the five separate 'voices' which make up this short novel were distinct and human.

The story centres around five women linked - to different levels of closeness - with the death of a young woman in a city hotel. Without discussing spoilers, I found some of
Christopher Klein
Jan 02, 2016 Christopher Klein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To me this is a book of associations and benefits from a hermeneutic reading in its simple methodological sense. I hope to avoid being apophantic, jargon heavy, or avuncular, but I have a feeling that is precisely my tendency. So, sorry if you read this.

I would encourage the prospective reader to push past the first section in which the dead girl speaks to her own body. It didn't work for me, a bit of a juvenile, Cartesian conceit. Yet, the rest is very fine prose indeed. Especially the last na
Jun 03, 2008 Savvy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Death by Dumbwaiter........."Woo-hooooooo"

Sara Wilby's tragic death, spiralling down in a dumbwaiter, begins with the voice of Sara's 'gossamer ghost'.
We see her desperate to understand what just happened.
Her death affects other women bound up in this rather curious ghost tale. And then each, in turn, relates their personal story.

Hotel World is a story of the power of time, how quickly time can turn us from living to dead, sane to mad, happy to sad, secure to homeless, rich to poor, healthy t
Sep 18, 2015 vivliovision rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Say a body. Where none. No mind. Where none. That at least. A place. Where none. For the body. To be in."

Worstward Ho

Ali Smith knows how to make her very own wounds blossom. Her prose is strong, at moments heartbreakingly funny, and allusive.

The main character of "Hotel World" is a haunting spectre; a broken voice with a story; a cluster of faint memories of a past life, of a past love, which come to the surface only to be forgotten one by one; a posthuman narrat
Hotel World was quite the experience. Ali Smith certainly has talent asking with her unique writing style and a recognizable author's voice. The synopsis for it actually gives great insight into the core of this novel:

"Five disparate voices inhabit Ali Smith's dreamlike, mesmerisingHotel World, set in the luxurious anonymity of the Global Hotel, in an unnamed northern English city. The disembodied yet interconnected characters include Sara, a 19-year-old chambermaid who has recently died at the
Feb 07, 2016 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ali Smith has such appeal. I love her writing.

This novel is an untraditional ghost story. It centers on five different characters, each of whom gets her own chapter, itself framed in a specific grammatical tense (present, past, etc) that emphasizes the book’s concern with time. The overlap among them is the Global Hotel and 19-year old Sara, who kicks off the book by plunging to her death in a freak accident in the hotel dumbwaiter.

One of the five epigraphs comes from Muriel Spark’s “Memento M
Greg Giannakis
Mar 20, 2016 Greg Giannakis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I'd say this but... I think Ali Smith's overtaken Murakami as my favourite author. Reading a book that makes you want to cry, curl up in a little ball and fills you with the most melancholy and bittersweet of happinesses is why I read in the first place. I don't know what to do with myself.

No one I've read yet has had such a powerful voice and view of the human experience. Every word she writes has a purpose and a necessity. My favourite Ali Smith yet.
Mar 05, 2015 Szeee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
A Gavalda könyv után alig tudtam mást olvasni, elkezdem egy-két regényt, de annyira gyengének és súlytalannak tűntek az előző után, hogy félredobtam őket.

Aztán valami megérzéstől vezérelve nyúltam ez után az ezer éve a polcomon heverő cukormázpink színű könyv után, mert csak. Hatodik érzék. Igen, több szempontból az. Ugyanis halottakat látunk, halottakat hallunk ennek a könyvnek a legelső lapjain. Az első fejezet annyira bizarr és zavarba ejtő, hogy gondolkodtam, hogy folytassam-e vagy ne. De a
Ubik 2.0
Donne sull’orlo (e ben oltre…) di una crisi.

Questo libro segue una recente tendenza (si potrebbe anche definire “moda”) che presenta un’apparente raccolta di racconti collegati fra loro da personaggi, luoghi, situazioni ricorrenti che a posteriori si rivelano concatenati come in un romanzo unico: l’esempio più noto è Olive Kitteridge di Elizabeth Strout.

Qui si incrociano cinque destini femminili nel cui malessere psicologico, fisico, esistenziale si tuffa “Hotel World”, non con la delicata allus
I'm not sure what happened here. I really liked two stories, the first and the last one. I especially loved past, with Sara's ghost having a conversation with her corpse in their (?) casket, which was hella creepy but at the same time kind of wonderful and definitely memorable.

The middle stories ranged from boring to frustrating. I fell asleep a few times, especially while reading the story of Sara's sister, who seems to think that punctuation is for losers. It was quite frustrating to read her
How do you rate a book that's technically beautiful and presents five distinct voices but you don't enjoy reading it? I had an argument with my partner about this. He said, 'You don't like it. Rate it a 1 or a 2.' But I couldn't bring myself to do it. The words were engrossing and interesting. Yet I kept checking the pages to see if it was over soon and how close I was to finishing it. Can you praise a book and at the same time wish you had read something else out of your huge to-read pile inste ...more
Isa Martínez
May 22, 2016 Isa Martínez marked it as abandonados  ·  review of another edition
Motivo del abandono:
ya era leer por leer, no me enteraba de nada y la forma en la que está narrado no me estaba gustando. Me costaba leer más de dos páginas seguidos. Le tenía muchas ganas a la autora así que en un futuro lo intentaré con otro de sus libros.
Susan Prevas
Feb 01, 2016 Susan Prevas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really a 4.5.
The second book I've read in a month which has been set in a hotel. Not so much a novel as a collection of five interlinked short stories, each with a connection to the 'Global Hotel'.

The five stories tell the stories of the ghost of a woman who dies when she falls four stories having clambered into a dumbwaiter in the hotel, a homeless woman begging outside the hotel, the receptionist at the hotel who arranges a bed for the night in the hotel for the homeless woman, a jobbing hack journalist, w
May 16, 2016 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-amsterdam, 2016
not all sections are equally good, but the first one and the one by clare are fantastic.

ali smith writes the most haunting, heartbreaking ghosts ever.
Phillip Edwards


is how this book starts.

The opening depicts the thoughts of nineteen-year-old chambermaid Sara Wilby as she plummets - and after she has plummeted - four floors down to her death inside a dumb waiter at the hotel where she works.

The events of that fateful night are presented from five different viewpoints, one by one, like five interconnected short stories:

Firstly Sarah, recalling her final memories as they slowly fade; then Else, a homeless person begging on the street out
Coni Warren
Five women’s lives become interconnected in a hotel somewhere in England. One of the women just happens to be a ghost of a woman who died in the hotel’s dumb waiter. It is written in a stream-of-consciousness style that takes some getting used to, but if you can get past that, you can enjoy it since it is just like you would think if you wrote down your own thoughts.

The book starts off great. The first chapter was the ghost of the woman who had just died in the dumb waiter. Her memory was fading
Cheyenne Blue
Nov 13, 2012 Cheyenne Blue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ali Smith, you've done it again.

I should know by now. I read your stories, I see the care you've taken with your words, how you build you characters. I see the deliberate literary styling, and I nod along, thinking that I enjoy your books, but I don't enjoy them that much, as there's a slowness, a stillness to your writing that fools me into thinking I'm not invested.

And then I get to, oh, maybe two thirds of the way through, and I think I'll put the book down, try something else, because it's n
Mar 03, 2013 Lance rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gotta' say, this book dragged on, for me.

I picked Hotel World up upon my partner's suggestion; and no offense intended towards my partner, but the book read, in my opinion, like it was written for a pubescent audience of white suburban nihilists.

The plot winds around the intersecting lives of a few characters, with alternating protagonists. Throughout the story, the reader has a hazy, fly-on-the-wall perspective, which is freshly executed, if nothing else. Still, by the end of the novel, I was
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  • The Public Image
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Ali Smith is a writer, born in 1962 in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and ho ...more
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“There is a kind of poetry, bad and good, in everything, everywhere we look.” 18 likes
“We all know our dates of birth but . . . every year there is another date that we pass over without knowing what it is but it is just as important it is the other date the death date.” 14 likes
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