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Hotel Crystal (French Literature)by Olivier Rolin
Synopses & Reviews
At some Parisian lost-and-found, a mysterious manuscript scribbled onto stray bits of hotel stationary and postcards and stuffed into an abandoned briefcase comes into the hands of an "editor," who claims to faithfully transcribe and assemble the random texts. On the face of it, these consist of fastidious descriptions of a series of hotel rooms in cities around the globe, but their world-weary writer, a certain "Olivier Rolin," is also involved in a number of highly improbable international networks, populated by unsavory thugs and Mata Haris in distress.
Author Olivier Rolin has dipped into his extensive travel notebooks to create this highly inventive novel that spoofs, among others, the decaying international espionage scene, the literary author publicity tour, and official French culture, all against a backdrop of the queasy alienation secreted by standard-issue hotel rooms across the globe.
"Using a Georges Perec line about memory as his point of departure, Rolin, a French journalist and accomplished novelist (Port-Soudan, Tigre en papier), has fashioned in forensic detail a travelogue of hotel rooms around the globe. From Room 308 in the 'Polar Hotel' of Khatanga, Russia, to Room 8 in the Au Bon Accueil in Saint-Nazaire, France, another 'Olivier Rolin' scribbled these brief, diarylike accounts on scraps of paper to be discovered before he supposedly disappeared for good. Along with the exact measurements of the room, descriptions of furnishings — especially the mirrors, in which he notes his reflection — the missing narrator offers clues about himself; he does some underhanded dealing with a smalltime Russian crook, Gricha; he drops literary allusions, from Homer to Malcolm Lowry; and he likes women, frequently using his rooms as trysting spots. It seems as though he could be embroiled in an international Machiavellian plot. In the end, he pines for one unattainable woman, Mlanie Melbourne, who scolds him because he can't remember the room that signifies their 'impossible life together,' Room 211 of the Hotel Crystal, in Nancy, France. Rolin's arch antinovel works as a kind of jokester hall of mirrors or a playful, literary roman policier. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Olivier Rolin is a towering figure in French literature . . . Rolin is a consummate artist who will speak profoundly to the American heart."--Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
About the Author
Olivier Rolin was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France in 1947. He spent his childhood in Senegal, but continued his studies in Paris, where he received a degree in philosophy and letters. Considered one of France's most distinguished contemporary novelists, Rolin won the Prix Femina for his novel Port-Sudan, while his Tigre en Papier was nominated for the 2003 Goncourt Prize. In addition to writing novels, Rolin is an editor at Seuil and has written for Libération and Le Nouvel Observateur.Jane Kuntz has translated Everyday Life and The Power of Flies by Lydie Salvayre, Hotel Crystal by Olivier Rolin, Pigeon Post by Dumitru Tsepeneag, and Hoppla! 1 2 3 and Making a Novel by Gérard Gavarry, all of which are available from Dalkey Archive Press.
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