Hotel World by Ali Smith

Hotel World by Ali Smith

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Five disparate voices inhabit Ali Smith's dreamlike, mesmerising Hotel 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 hotel; her bereaved sister, Clare, who visits the scene of Sara's death; Penny, an advertising copywriter who is staying in the room opposite; Lise, the Global's depressed receptionist; and the homeless Else who begs on the street outside. Smith's ambitious prose explores all facets of language and its uses.

Sara takes us through the moment of her exit from the world and beyond; in her desperate, fading grip on words and senses she gropes to impart the meaning of her death in what she terms "the lift for dishes"--then comes a flash of clarity: "That's the name for it, the name for it; that's it; dumb waiter dumb waiter dumb waiter." Blended with hers are other voices: Penny's bland journalese and Else's obsession with metaphysical poetry.

Paperback / 256 pages