I had heard rumour of this little book on the book blogger grapevine and was intrigued by the attention it was getting. Knowing the author was of such a young age, and yet was winner of the Prix de Flore in 2012 it was definitely one that piqued my interest.
I started this at lunch time and, by the first page, I was completely immersed in the world of Nanou and her "customers".
Within an hour, I read some of the most amazing prose that I have ever encountered in modern literature. Each page contained sublime paragraphs, mostly short. There is something very special about this novel. It is short, sharp, and strangely sweet despite the subject matter. The author has found a way to bring the protagonist, and her 5 clients, to life on the page, without resorting to desperate measures to gain the reader's sympathy or approval. The sentences are just perfect. Each page contains so many perfect lines, that I couldn't begin to choose which ones to quote. Quite simply, this character driven novel is writing at it's best.
Nanou is a prostitute, working out of the Zenith Hotel in Paris. Seedy, and far from the hotels in Paris we are used to reading about, it is nevertheless her place of work and she deals with it, and the hand she has been dealt in life, with little dignity intact. We are given sneak peeks of some of her clients and how different they are. Each character is assigned their own short chapter and these chapters work like interlinking short stories, giving the novel a wonderful feel of fluidity.
Raw, intense and coated with bitter honey. Every single page is a work of art. Oscar Coop-Phane has a natural talent, making me think that if Oscar Wilde was alive today, he would be jealous of this book........
An amazing debut, an amazing voice, an amazing book!
Zenith Hotel is published by Arcadia Books on 15 March 2014 and I'm even quoted on the cover!!