Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize, Hotel Silence is a delightful and heartwarming new novel from Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, a writer who "upends expectations" (New York Times). Told with grace, insight, and humor, this is the story of one man’s surprising mid-life adventure of self-discovery that leads him to find a new reason for being.
Jónas Ebeneser is a handy DIY kind of man with a compulsion to fix things, but he can’t seem to fix his own life. On the cusp of turning 50, divorced, adrift, he’s recently discovered he is not the biological father of his daughter, Gudrun Waterlily, and he has sunk into an existential crisis, losing all will to live. As he visits his senile mother in a nursing home, he secretly muses on how, when, and where to put himself out of his misery.
To prevent his only daughter from discovering his body, Jónas decides it’s best to die abroad. Armed with little more than his toolbox and a change of clothes, he flies to an unnamed country where the fumes of war still hover in the air. He books a room at the sparsely occupied Hotel Silence, in a small town riddled with landmines and the aftershocks of violence, and there he comes to understand the depths of other people’s scars while beginning to see his wounds in a new light.
A celebration of life’s infinite possibilities, of transformations and second chances, Hotel Silence is a rousing story of a man, a community, and a path toward regeneration from the depths of despair.
“Hotel Silence is one of the most human books I’ve read in a while. It reminds me of The Clown by Heinrich Boll. I loved it.” Daniel Wallace, author of Extraordinary Adventures and Big Fish
“Witty, soulful, lighthearted, and tender...charming and immersive.” Library Journal (starred review)
“A beautifully spare and insightful tale of redemption.” Booklist
“With humor and simple, heart-piercing prose, Hotel Silence tells the story of a man and his past, and the community where he finds himself. Ólafsdóttir’s world is full of surprise, sadness, love, and transformation. I didn’t want it to end.” Bethany Ball, author of What to Do About the Solomons
About the Author
Audur Ava Olafsdóttir was born in Iceland in 1958, studied art history in Paris, and has lectured in history of art at the University of Iceland. Her novel The Greenhouse was translated into 22 languages. She currently lives and works in Reykjavík.