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Hotel Iris

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  4,293 ratings  ·  661 reviews
In a crumbling, seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet, seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother fusses over the off-season customers. When, one night, they are forced to eject a prostitute and a middle-aged man from his room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a long seduction.

Mari begins to visit th
Paperback, 164 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by Vintage Publishing (first published 1996)
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Kerry I would guess that he's Japanese. Most of the time, translators translate *from* another language *to* their native language. She also never remarks o…moreI would guess that he's Japanese. Most of the time, translators translate *from* another language *to* their native language. She also never remarks on his foreign appearance, which you'd think she would have if he weren't Japanese.(less)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
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 ·  4,293 ratings  ·  661 reviews

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Amalia Gkavea
‘’He first came to the Iris one day just before the beginning of the summer season. The rain had been falling since dawn. It grew heavier at dusk, and the sea was rough and grey. A gust blew open, and rain soaked the carpet in the lobby. The shopkeepers in the neighbourhood had turned off their neon signs along the empty streets. A car passed from time to time, its headlights shining through the raindrops.’’

It is a suffocating summer in the Hotel Iris. For Mari, it is one more dull, frustrat
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Robin by: Carol
The Hotel Iris, a shabby seaside accommodation run by a cruel widow and her seventeen year old daughter, isn't much of a getaway. For Mari, the teenage girl practically chained behind the front desk, it's more like a prison. Remember those famous lyrics of that song, "Hotel California"? You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave....

So I suppose it's not all that surprising that Mari, who has lived a life of restraint, would gravitate to the familiar, with "the translator", a mu
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) this case, she is using those words and words to make sentences to make paragraphs to make cha
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The topic of this novel is disturbing and uncomfortable
Yoko Ogawa displays the harsh pleasures and sadistic intimacy
at first it was just a voice that attracted Mari's attention at the hotel Iris where she is working, then gradually found herself in a some sort of an affection relationship between her- the 17 year old girl - and a middle aged man
Mari's character is well written.. her life is limited by solitude, dominant mother and work
she made a strange contradictory connection between pleasu
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 si
Dhanaraj Rajan
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 humil
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.

T.D. Whittle
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
*** Plot spoilers ahead! ***

Hotel Iris is beautifully written but not easy reading due to the grim sexual violence. It was necessary to tell the story, though, so not gratuitous. Given that I read an English translation from the Japanese, I imagine the writing 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 becau
Viv JM
4.5 stars

I 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
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jul 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
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
If I'm rating this somewhere between 3 to 3.5, it's not because I'm grossed out by the twisted content in the book (I do love Lolita) . The writing's content and straightforward too, and I did finish this during a train journey in one sitting with another three hours left for another book. So again, if I'm rating this eerie little novel less than 3.5, it's probably because the book did not work for me as whole. Or it's probably just that I picked this right after Brothers Karamazov.
Cam *tactile seeker*

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
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
Yuck. I love dark, but not this kind of dark. I read this in one day—first because the beautiful writing drew me in, but by the middle I just wanted the nightmare to be over.

Three stars for the writing only-- the parts I could enjoy anyway through the terribly disturbing subject matter. Kudos to the author for not flinching though. She never strays from the voice, even when you desperately want her to.

I would definitely read more by Ogawa. But this one … just, yuck. **shudder** Bring me anothe
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
While I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa's style and sense of the bizarre and grotesque saved this book from the three-star category.

There is almost a cliche these days of feminist writers having to do at least one really sadomasochistic book where a woman LOVES being abused by a man, something I just can't understand. Among Yoko Ogawa's kinswomen Natsuo Kirino and especially Amy Yamada spring to mind.

Hotel Iris was written w
Marcus Hobson
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to this book having read The Memory Police, which dates from two years earlier, keen to read something else by the author. This has many similar qualities.

This is a deeply unsettling book, about a girl who is befriended by a much older man, who goes to humiliate and abuse her. The girl appears to want him to do this and is a willing participant in the activities. At times the book is arousing and erotic, and because your own body betrays you with those feelings, you are somehow dragg
Melissa Chung
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
Nate D
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boring fantasies
Recommended to Nate D by: lonely hotels
Shelves: read-in-2017, japan
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 ...more
Shāfiya Mū  (The Djinn Reader)
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
Aya Hamza
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 t
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This felt very disturbing all throughout, even though nothing too horrific happens.

Jul 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We were both sick, me and this book.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction
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
Aug 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 famil
Brown Girl Reading
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 ...more
Warning: [adding it here because the blurb doesn't have it and it should] there are rape and torture scenes in the book some readers may find disturbing

**Minor spoilers hidden inside the spoiler tag in the review so for heaven's sake Goodreads, stop hiding my reviews**

So...this is the first time I have been completely blindsided by an author I love. I don't even know what to say. I guess, maybe I am disappointed? Or disgusted? Or just non-plussed because I went into the book expecting somethin
Michael Livingston
I couldn't really cope with the central relationship in this - it's creepy, manipulative and the power imbalance is dreadful. Ogawa is obviously aware of all of this and she evokes moments beautifully, but I just didn't need this story in my life right now.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, may-2017
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 lea ...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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“„I betrayed you,” I said, so quietly that I hardly knew it was my own voice. It felt like a lie even though I told the truth. He stood perfectly still. A siren sounded, long and low.
„You can't get home. They've stopped the boat,” he said.

Strangely, I did not think about Mother, or what I would tell her tomorrow. It seemed that tomorrow would never come,(…)”
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