The Hotel by Anne Enright, 2017
The magic trick:
Subverting the reader’s sense of the protagonist from entitled to imperiled
The story begins with classic so-called first-world problems. The protagonist is so worn out from her jetsetting. New York, Dublin, Milan. It’s all just too much. So sad.
The conflict quickly deepens, however, into something akin to a nightmare. The woman’s confusion at the airport isn’t simply a minor nuisance. It becomes truly scary. There are refugees. The hotel isn’t a hotel. It’s a warehouse. Reality gets confused. I’m sure what it all means exactly, but it’s certainly an interesting subversion of the initial “foibles of a white lady traveling across Europe” motif. And that’s quite a trick on Enright’s part.
When the plane landed, she followed the other passengers along the jet bridge, up an escalator, and down a glass-walled corridor, and zigzagged over and back through an empty baffle, with no queue to contain. She showed her passport to a tired official sitting high in a cubicle, who did not ask if she knew what country she was trying to get into so late at night. There should be a sign, she thought. A few bags circled on the carrousel, but she left them to it, and walked between bare steel tables, out through sliding doors into this new place.
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