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Hotel Silencio

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,488 ratings  ·  631 reviews
Su mujer lo ha abandonado. La demencia de su madre no hace más que avanzar. Acaba de descubrir que su hija no es su hija biológica. Visto que solo su particular habilidad para las reparaciones y las chapuzas domésticas sigue teniendo algo de sentido, Jónas decide agarrar su caja de herramientas y hacer un viaje solo de ida a un país extraño y devastado por la guerra para d ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published May 2019 by Alfaguara (first published 2016)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  4,488 ratings  ·  631 reviews

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Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, iceland
At first, I had a feeling of dread to start Hotel Silence. It was coming in line right after I finished My Struggle vol. 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard and The Only Story by Julian Barnes. While I loved both books, I wasn’t in the mood for another story about a whining Nordic man. As I keep my ARC deadlines, I had to push through. Well, my reluctance was ill founded because I was impressed by the Icelandic writer and her little novel about loss and revival.

Jónas is left by his wife and is told a secr
Jim Fonseca
We know from the blurbs that this is a novel about a man contemplating suicide. He’s almost fifty, divorced, lonely and has no purpose in life. He hasn’t been with a woman for the eight years since his marriage ended. He has a daughter that he sees on and off but when he got divorced his wife kindly told him he wasn’t her biological father. His father is dead and his mother rambles on with Alzheimers in an institutional setting.


He’s a Mr. Fixit – a handyman type. So, not wanting to have his bod
Amalia Gkavea
‘’Will the world miss me? No. Will the world be any poorer without me? No. Will the world survive without me? Yes. Is the world a better place now than when I came into it? No. What have I done to improve it? Nothing.’’

When we need to place a name next to the word ‘’pessimism’’, Jonas’ will be ideal. Our main protagonist stands on a crossroads, the most crucial in his life. His marriage is broken, shadows are cast over the paternity of his beloved daughter and he feels there is no purpose le
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single, probably divorced, man (or woman*), in possession of 50 years or so of existence on this planet, must be in want of an existential crisis.

*is this also true for women? I honestly don't know. Feel free to 'enlighten' me :)

Anyway, I'm not Icelandic, nor have I ever stepped foot on Iceland's shores. But I think I would like it there if this book is anything to go by. I'm a fairly solitary individual in the main, and I adore wide expanses of ve
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This quiet, somewhat understated novel really was much more than I expected from its description. From Jonas' abject resignation to unhappiness with all aspects of his life, except for his daughter, to his search through his diaries for answers in the past, to the plan to die but how and where. This man lives in his head...And we live there with him. The book is sprinkled with thoughtful poetic quotes from a number of authors (who are listed at the end). Another thing sprinkled through the story ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Repair, restoration, rejuvenation, and redemption. Jonas is a man in pain. Feeling useless he decides to end his life. In order to spare his daughter the pain of finding his body he selects a war torn place to carry out his plan. What he finds and those he meets at the Hotel Silence just might rearrange his life. Told in spare but beautiful words this short novel is achingly profound. Ms. Olafsdottir reminds us that all suffering is unique and therefore can’t be compared. She provides a voice fo ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-wd
I wanted to read Hotel Silence before this year’s Hay Literature Festival where the Icelandic novelist Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir will be discussing her book.
Hotel Silence is a sad, funny and quietly powerful novel concerning Jónas a very unhappy and lonely middle aged man, who decides it’s time to end it all.
So as not to upset his family he decides to travel to a war torn town in a far away, unnamed country to commit suicide.
This all sounds pretty depressing but Ólafsdóttir writes humorously, with
3.5 stars

This is very different from my usual reads. It tells the story of Jónas Ebeneser, a 49 yr. old man who has (in his eyes) lost everything. The last straw was learning from his ex-wife that he’s not the father of his adult daughter. Now living in a tiny flat, he calmly decides there is no reason for him to go on living.

He’s always been a quiet, insular man. After selling his business, his only job these days is visiting his elderly mother. “I don’t know who I am. I’m nothing & I own noth
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read, iceland
"The formulation of a scar is a natural part of the biological process, which occurs when a lesion to the skin or other body tissue grows after an accident, illness or surgery. Since the body is unable to create an exact replica of the damaged tissue, the fresh tissue grows with a new texture and properties that differ from the undamaged skin around it."

"Hotel Silence" is a novel about the many faces of pain, the Icelandic title of the book, "ör", translating as "scar". Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The first line of the GR description is spot on. How do you put your life together when you see it crumbling around you? Do you even want to? Despite what doesn't sound faintly amusing - "buy a one-way ticket to a chaotic, war-ravaged country and put an end to it all" - there are some laugh out loud sections in the early portions of this. Jonas and his neighbor are discussing their individual marital problems and that they don't understand what it is their wives actually want. Completely bewilde ...more
Connie G
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir won the Icelandic Literary Prize for Fiction for this short novel. It's a strange book--but in a good way--about Jonas who loses his will to live after some family problems surface. He contemplates suicide, but he does not want his daughter to discover his body. He decides to take a vacation to an unnamed country (probably in the Balkans) damaged by recent wars and littered with landmines.

Handy with tools, Jonas finds a sense of purpose helping people who have been through
Ken Fredette
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonas seems, in the story, to be the type of person who really wants to help people, even though he went to Hotel Silence to commit suicide. His thought was to save his daughter the sting of finding him. It's out of the country in a war zone, currently under a cease fire. Hotel Silence needs to be updated, the result of war. Audur Ava Olafsdottir uses poetry to bring to life all the sayings that Jonas has heard, and for once I could make sense of all the poetry and could see how it goes with eac ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was dark. A man approaching 50 contemplates suicide and to spare his daughter (well, sort of his daughter…) the unpleasantness of finding him dead, he buys a one-way plane ticket to “somewhere, anywhere, with no intention of returning. He chooses a country far away from Iceland, an unnamed country that has been ravaged by way but is right now in a precarious cease-fire. He picks a hotel online “in some derelict small town I recognize from the news.” And the rest of the story is told t ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
We are still separated by three floorboards, massive pinewood from the surrounding forest, which is carpeted with mines, each floorboard is thirty centimetres wide, with intermittent gaps, and I stretch out my arms, groping towards her like a blind man trying to catch his bearings. First I reach the surface of the body, the skin, a streak of moonlight caressing her back through a slit between the curtains. She takes one step towards me, I step on a creaking floorboard. And she also holds out
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian FitzGibbon, is a delightful novel told in the first-person point of view of Jónas, a forty-nine-year-old man undergoing an existential crisis. Convinced his life has lost meaning, Jónas calmly plans his suicide. The only thing worrying him is how to do it while causing minimal disruption to his daughter.

After eliminating several options, Jónas decides the best way to achieve his goal is to travel to a war-torn country currently experie
"Instead of putting an end to your existence, can't you just put an end to this you and become someone else?"

Jónas is our central character, an Icelandic man with depression who plans to end his life. In order to spare his daughter from finding his body, he decides to travel to a faraway war-torn country to do the act. Hotel Silence is in this unnamed country, left in ruins from war, and run by a brother and sister, and her young son.

The story is nothing unexpected, but still insightful and with
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An easy, terrific read with a message for today’s political and social climate. A novel of renewal.
Pallavi Modi
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR – Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize, Hotel Silence is a thoroughly delightful, quirky yet strange (in a good way) novel.

I find it very strange to call this a “novel”. This could very well be the story of your next door, slightly introverted, yet eager to help, middle-aged neighbor because that is exactly how Jonas comes across. The character development for not only the protagonist but for all the characters is flawless. Every character has his or her baggage that they are carrying an
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this small gentle tale of repair in the world. A short novel about a Icelandic handyman whose life has lost meaning and has decided to commit suicide, who travels to a nameless country left in ruins after a war and takes up residence at the Hotel Silence, intending to do himself in, but ends up repairing lives and windows and himself.

Kind of the literary equivalent of a Wes Anderson movie, a stylish allegorical fairy tale. One doesn't really 'believe' in the character and his suicidal
H.A. Leuschel
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another heart-wrenching read that was compelling, emotional and powerful in a quietly confident way! Highly recommended!
Andy Weston
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, iceland
It is a real pleasure to write a few words in praise of Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir . Originally written in Icelandic, this is the story of a man tired of life, unhappy and depressed.

Is there something I still long to experience? Nothing I can think of. I have held a newborn slimy red baby, chopped down a Christmas tree in the woods in December, taught a child to ride a bike, changed a tyre up on a mountain road at night in a snowstorm, plaited my daughter’s hair, driven through a
Jónas is a recently divorced middle aged man wallowing in self-pity, who sells his business to provide for his daughter and decides that taking care of his aging mother is a burden. He essentially gives up on living and decides to travel to an unspecified war torn country where he plans to commit suicide so his daughter won't be the one to find his dead body. Once Jónas gets there though, his life takes a surprising turn as he almost inadvertently finds a purpose for himself and readers finally ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, arc

Jonas wants to end his life. After knowing that his daughter is not his and him being divorced, nothing is exciting as it was supposed to be in life for Jonas. So he goes to a faraway country (unnamed) only because he doesn’t want his daughter to find the body and be forced to clean out his apartment.
But once he is in the unnamed country and stays in Hotel Silence, slowly he sees the life around him, totally different from his. He is back in demand. He finds a purpose.

Slow paced but it
Jackie Law
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (translated by Brian FitzGibbon), tells the story of a man who feels that he no longer exists. Once upon a time he was a husband, a father, a son. Now these roles have been eroded, taken from him by forces he struggles to understand. He is unable to find any reason to go on.

Jónas Ebeneser has always tried to do as he is told by the women in his life. His names mean ‘dove’ and ‘the helpful one’ – they suit him well. His mother, a former maths teacher, lives
Viv JM
3.5 stars

Hotel Silence tells the story of Jonas, who is feeling suicidal after splitting up from his wife and finding out that his daughter is not biologically his, as well as dealing with his mother's dementia. He decides to sell off his business and travel to an (unnamed) war torn country, so that his daughter will not find his body. When he gets there, he ends up forging connections with the owners of the hotel and local residents, and finds a niche for himself as a handyman, helping people r
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a change of pace for me, but this book was amazing! Hotel Silence chronicles the journey of a man lost. It reveals his impact on those he meets on his journey. He unwittingly changes them, and in the process himself. Everything about this story is subtle. The title is fitting as it garnered a silence within me every time I was forced to put it down. Jonas (the man with the toolbox), knows himself. He knows himself within his thoughts and of his actions. Yet he is still lost. This is his ...more
Trina (aNovelReader)
Hotel Silence is about one man's contemplation of suicide. It is the winner of the 2016 Icelandic Literary Prize (out of 5 nominees) and The New York Times describes it as a delightful and heartwarming novel told with grace, insight, and humor.

I had trouble getting through this story as I found it to be the complete opposite of delightful and heartwarming. The tone was bleak and depressing, the story disconnected, and the conversations sparse. Oftentimes the narration appeared to be a jumble of
Steve Wiggins
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I begin my blog post (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World) on Hotel Silence by explaining this book is part of the 2020 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge. Well, in a way. This particular reading challenge lists categories of books and the reader has to choose their own book that meets that particular category. For my book in translation I chose my third novel by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. The Reading Challenge often includes a book in translation, and since I don’t read Icelandic, but I like ...more
Liz Barnsley
A wistful and beautifully layered story about one man who finds something to live for when he goes somewhere to die.

Not my usual kind of read, but definitely worthy of the literary prize it won, it probably didn't QUITE hit the mark for me because of the execution which was just pretty much one long ramble but apart from that little bugbear I rather loved it.

A full review will follow.
I adore Icelandic literature, but have come to the conclusion that the work of Audur Ava Olafsdottir just does not work for me. I picked up Butterflies in November a couple of years ago, and ended up putting it down when I was a third of the way through. The same thing has happened with her newest novel, Hotel Silence. Despite winning the Icelandic Literary Award for Fiction in 2017, Hotel Silence did not capture my imagination. In terms of its storyline, it is not at all bad, but reading part o ...more
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Nordic Book Club: November 2019 - Hotel Silence 4 30 Apr 01, 2020 11:16PM  
November 2019 - Hotel Silence 1 3 Dec 04, 2019 12:27PM  

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Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir was born in Iceland in 1958, studied art history in Paris and has lectured in History of Art at the University of Iceland. Her earlier novel, The Greenhouse (2007), won the DV Culture Award for literature and was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Award. She currently lives and works in Reykjavik.

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Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
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