The Hotel

Veronique Bizot Translated from French by Youna Kwak

Read time: about 2 minutes

This is the first story I am reading that is translated from French. It begins astonishingly well. A lady describes the scenario in the hotel for someone called ‘you’.

Having finished dinner in the hotel restaurant, the young couple went back up to their room to find half a dozen rats running around in every direction.

Cover: The Hotel

It was a surprise since in the hotel was rather expensive where they did not keep even the dirty trolley in the hallway. Having seen rats came as a surprise to everyone. However, the hotel workers went around searching for rats, because:

… we are bound to believe what our guests tell us, so if our guests tell us that rats, or even alligators, for that matter, have infiltrated their room, we absolutely cannot doubt their word.

The narrator, however, doubts that any rat is seen anywhere. She believes that it may be just a stunt for the honeymooners to get free stay in the hotel. It didn’t matter that the couple were rich.

I knew a woman who replaced her kitchen sponge only once a year, she was covered in jewels but her kitchen sponge was in tatters.

I was expecting more from the story. But in the story the woman describes the hotel and those staying in it, her own failed marriage and other irreverent details unlike those that initially pulled you into the story. I would have liked to know more about the honeymooner but there is no conclusion to it.

The story is like a mumbling of an old woman. There are things vague and foggy. She switches from one topic to another and moves on. I understand the point of narration but I did not like it very much. The story is a part of collection called ‘Gardeners’. Aptly the descriptions of gardens are vivid in the story.

One thing that I liked about the story is the characterization of the honeymoon couple. The composed husband and the panic stricken wife make wonderful characters to the story.

I’m afraid we have undesirable animals in our bedroom, we heard him say, in the tone of voice one might use to report a bulb gone out. Rats! screamed the Englishwoman. Rats, confirmed her husband soberly.

Read the story on The New Yorker for free using this link.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH