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Hotel Iris

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3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  1,808 ratings  ·  305 reviews
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 to ...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Picador (first published 1996)
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Best Japanese Books
169th out of 451 books — 1,955 voters
Kitchen by Banana YoshimotoThe Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko OgawaOut by Natsuo KirinoThe Tale of Genji by Murasaki ShikibuMasks by Fumiko Enchi
Literature by Japanese Women
20th out of 89 books — 34 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
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) but...in this case, she is using those words and words to make sentences to make paragraphs to make cha
...more
Praj
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,
...more
Teresa
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 Ru
...more
Tony
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
...more
CamRebel


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 spee
...more
Ana
"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'
...more
rachel
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
...more
Adrienne
Oo this was good , infact 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, truely 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 famil
...more
Elizabeth Reuter
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
...more
Justin
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
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
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 i
...more
J.
Jan 22, 2014 J. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: japan
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 re
...more
Neko
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
...more
Elena Druta
Romanul mi s-a părut cel puțin ciudat și, totodată, foarte bine ancorat în realitate; personajele sunt reale, umane, capabile să inspire anumite sentimente prin acțiunile sale. Firul narativ se rostogolește ca un ghem de ață, natural, fără a fi forțat de vreo întâmplare nefirească. Totuși, în acea normalitate de pe parcursul cărții, se infiltrează anumite momente stranii, uneori chiar magice, fără însă a distorsiona realitatea sau a modifica brusc direcția spre care se îndreaptă acțiunea.
Trixie Fontaine
A tight tolerably-sad pleasurable little read with a lot of elements I *loved* that loners will get off on. And there's other stuff some people will get off on (or be super triggered by): bdsm & non-consent stuff. I didn't read it for that stuff, but I enjoyed the story.

I dislike the description of this book; the tone of it is misleading. I read it because I loved Revenge.

Kind of felt like what might happen if a sort of lazy Patricia Highsmith knocked off a better kind of 50 Shades of Grey (
...more
Moe Aye
But I wanted this body I worshipped to be ugly - only then could I taste my disgrace. Only when I was brutalized, reduced to a sack of flesh, could I know pure pleasure

I wasn't skeptical of how good or bad the book was going to be even though I read a few reviews from goodreads. I feel that most people cannot stand the BDSM aspect of the book because 1.) The girl was 17 and innocent, 2.) The sex was borderline non-consensual, which may have threw off a few people that are not experienced in th
...more
Say Lee
NOPITY, NOPE, NOPE!
Came across this book on a Buzzfeed list for '26 Books From Around The World You Need To Read Before You Die'
I started reading it thinking, wow..this could be like Lolita, if not any weirder.
But, shut the front door!!
This is the ultimate Lolita and Fifty Shades crossover. Weird doesn't event start to describe it. There were multiple instances where I just wanted to stop. The only thing that kept me going were the almost poetic descriptions of scenery and everyday life. The pl
...more
Elevate Difference
Having been forced to drop out of school to work at her family's seaside hotel in Japan, a young woman named Mari suffers through days marked by routine. She cleans rooms, minds the desk, and attends to the needs of the guests. The novel Hotel Iris explores what happens when a girl breaks free of a life of controlled repetition, only to fall victim to an even more brutal cycle of submission and domination. Taking shape slowly, like the way breath comes on a hot summer day, Mari reaches so far in ...more
Nadia
Wow. Ogawa has written another haunting novel. I'm not sure what to write about this book, because truthfully there were times that I was rather shocked at the deplorable and violent manner in which Mari was treated by her companion, the translator. Her first foray into an intimate relationship consisted of being tied up, hung by the ceiling, photographed, physically and verbally abused - all of which Mari craved and enjoyed. So, why did I cringe whilst reading about this S&M relationship? B ...more
Sean O'Hara
-Hotel Iris is the story of a Japanese schoolgirl--

-Drink!

-Will you let me finish?

-Sorry, dude, but sometimes it seems like that whole country has a lolita fetish.

-Whatever. Hotel Iris is the story of Mari, a Japanese school girl who works in her mother's inn in a seaside resort.

-Cool, it's like Hanasaku Iroha: The Novel.

-Yeah, if Sui was an even worse slave-driver who cheats her guests, Tomoe was a kleptomaniac, and Ohana decided to run off to become Jiro's S&M slave.

I was going for turtle-shell bondage, but the knots are too difficult

-Um, okay. I can live w
...more
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blanche
This book was... interesting, but flawed. The interpreter is the best developed character, and is fairly interesting to follow, but the story tends to meander. The sexual scenes do not really seem rooted in any true character development. And, just as the relationship seemed to be getting interesting, the story ended in a dramatic, yet totally unjustified way. There was absolutely no true resolution, none of the characters seemed to truly learn or grow, and the story just stopped. I'm glad that ...more
Sean Owen
When someone starts talking about current practitioners of the horror genre with literary merit it isn't long before the name Yōko Ogawa comes out. Her works tends to the shorter side: novellas and short stories. "Hotel Iris" is the story of an unhappy girl working in her mother's hotel. Her father died a drunken disgrace and her mother treats her poorly, seeing her more as free labor than a daughter. One night a fight breaks out between an older man staying in the hotel and a prostitute. The gi ...more
Pyar Se
thanks to my friend for recommending it. i read it in a couple hours, it was so enthralling.
Rebecka
(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 munda ...more
Charlotte
What a strange little book. If you’re interested in the dark side of sexual desire, then this is the book for you. Ogawa writes so directly and beautifully, and with such restraint; like a voyeur, you can’t turn away. At its heart, this is a love story. (Tragic, of course.) A 17-year-old girl is drawn to an old man who is thrown out of her mother’s hotel for mistreating a prostitute. It’s his calm, contemptuous command, “Shut up, whore,” that becomes an obsession for her. When she sees the old m ...more
sonicbooming
I've heard fairly positive comments whenever I've confronted Yoko Ogawa and so I decided to pick up one of her novels. A Japanese author who is unafraid to tackle difficult subject matter: violence, sexuality, horror, etc. These are subjects I often gravitate towards as they fascinate me as a reader and the ways in which authors write upon these subjects.

Yoko Ogawa does not disappoint with her short novel Hotel Iris, at least not until the very end. A young 17-year old girl who lives with her m
...more
Liviu
This is a short but very compelling first person novel; I think that the voice is what makes it so good - lonely, overworked and generally neglected teenager Mari whose widow mother uses as unpaid labor to run their hotel Iris (in a Japanese holiday resort by the sea) together with an older woman who serves as maid - so not only was Mari forced to drop out of school but she basically has very little time (or money) for herself and while her mother likes to groom her - after all an attractive fac ...more
Lisa
Aug 08, 2011 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NOT to people disturbed by disturbing sex
Shelves: japan
Hmmmm.... this one is really hard to rate. The writing was good, so was the imagery and also the characterization. The sex scenes kind of hit you like a slap, which was probably what the author intended, and she succeeded. because of the grapic nature of the relationship between Mari and the translator, I think a lot of readers would dismiss this as just smutty porn, and I get that, but i think Ogawa really had something to say here about women and youth and innoscence, Japanese society, love, a ...more
christa
Mari is manning the front desk at the ramshackle sea-side hotel owned by her mother the night before the start of the busy season when a second-floor scuffle breaks out between a guest and a prostitute. The latter lands in the hallway, screeching and flailing, amid a mess of tossed pillows, strewn clothing and a spilled purse. Other guests file into the hallway to gawk, and the john -- a stoic suit-wearing sort, says to the woman in a hypnotic voice Mari likens to a mellow horn or a cello:

"Shut
...more
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Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a ...more
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