Ali Smith’s masterful, ambitious Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. Five people: four are living, three are strangers, two are sisters, one is dead. In her highly acclaimed and most ambitious book to date, the brilliant young Scottish writer Ali Smith brings alive five unforgettable characters and traces their intersecting lives. This is a short novel with big themes (time, chance, money, death) but an eye for tiny detail: the taste of dust, the weight of a few coins in the hand, the pleasurable pain of a stone in one’s shoe…”Ali Smith has got style, ideas and punch. Read her”. (Jeanette Winterson). “An extremely readable, easy-flowing writer and one of the subtlest and most intelligent around. Hotel World is essential reading from a writer confirming herself as a major talent …a wonderful piece of sustained imagination”. (Independent). “As infectious as a pop song, the story bursts open form the very first page and demands to be read in one sitting”. (The Times). Ali Smith is the author of novels Girl Meets Boy, Like, The Accidental, Hotel World and There but for the.She has published the short story collections The First Person and Other Stories, Free Love and Other Stories, Other Stories and Other Stories and The Whole Story and Other Stories. She has been twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, twice nominated for the Orange Prize and won the Whitbread Novel of the Year in 2005.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.
Hotel World is not an easy read: disturbing and witty by turns, with its stream-of-consciousness narrators reminiscent of Virgina Woolf’s The Waves, its deceptively rambling language is underpinned by a formal construction. Exploring the “big themes” of love, death and millennial capitalism, it takes as its starting point Muriel Spark’s Momento Mori (“Remember you must die”) and counteracts this axiom with a resolute “Remember you must live”. Ali Smith’s novel is a daring, compelling, and frankly spooky read. —Catherine Taylor