by Yoko Ogawa // A Picador Paperback Original
• An AIGA's 50 Books // 50 Covers Best Cover 2010 Selection
A tale of twisted love, from the author of The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor
In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.
The man is a proud if threadbare translator living on an island off the coast. A widower, there are whispers around town that he may have murdered his wife. Mari begins to visit him on his island, and he soon initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, a place in which she finds herself more at ease even than the translator. As Mari's mother begins to close in on the affair, Mari's sense of what is suitable and what is desirable are recklessly engaged.
Hotel Iris is a stirring novel about the sometimes violent ways in which we express intimacy and about the untranslatable essence of love.
A creepier book than her other titles. We wanted it to have a dark, David Lynch tone to it. Off-centered and living in the shadows. The author's two previous novels had a dominant blue palette so I wanted to carry that through. Good thing the title had the word "IRIS" in it. I shifted the color balance to an overall violet tone and enclosed the scene in darkness on the edges to form a circular iris like a fade to black. The ferryboat came from a photo I took from my trip to Block Island, RI.
An earlier approach that wasn't menacing enough: