HOTEL SILENCE by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir


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A middle-aged man travels from Iceland to an unnamed, war-torn country with plans of committing suicide.

Jónas Ebeneser has recently discovered that his adult daughter, Waterlily, is not his biological child. Considering his recently dissolved marriage and his lack of biological connection to his daughter, Jónas decides he has little left to live for. He begins planning his suicide but gets held up by logistics. First, he worries that disposing of his personal belongings will prove emotionally taxing for his daughter, so he begins emptying his home of his personal effects. Next, he concludes that his daughter should not be the one to find his body. So instead of shooting himself at home, Jónas decides to simply go away, disappear. He buys a plane ticket to a country that has just emerged from a devastating war on its own soil. Reserving a room at the mysterious Hotel Silence, he brings only one change of clothes, his diaries, and a tool box, in case affixing a hook to the ceiling might hasten his journey toward death. Ravaged by land mines, violence, and loss, the area surrounding Hotel Silence is a wasteland of dust and desperation. Jónas can’t help but notice the hotel’s glaring state of disrepair, and he begins using his tools to make small improvements, tightening a screw here, unclogging water pipes there. Word of Jónas’ handy nature spreads quickly, and he is suddenly being asked by all manner of folk to makes repairs for them in their homes and places of business around town. With so many men lost in the recent war, Jónas is treated as though he’s the only handyman in the entire country. People can’t get enough of him, and Jónas begins to wonder if he has found a new home. Told in surreal, almost Kafkaesque prose, Ólafsdóttir’s (Butterflies in November, 2014, etc.) stunning story is about one man’s unexpected reawakening.

An engaging and surprising tale of transformation, told in almost allegorical form, perfect for fans of second chances and evolving perspectives.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2750-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2017


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