Reviews for The third hotel

Library Journal
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A surreal meditation on grief and loss, this latest from van den Berg (Find Me) follows Clare, a traveling elevator saleswoman, whose husband, Richard, was killed after being struck by a car. Richard, a film studies professor, was slated to attend a film festival in Havana, and Clare goes in his place. While wandering the streets of Havana, she spots Richard, or perhaps his ghost, and the unfolding narrative explores the idea of Richard's possible reembodiment in this world. After stalking him for days, Clare finally confronts him. While unable to resolve all the questions from the last year of their marriage, she is able to find some peace and finally face her father's descent into dementia. The novel also asks questions about selfhood, particularly in the course of travel. Do we become someone else when we travel or more our true selves? Atmospheric descriptions of Cuba, and references to horror-film tropes (Richard's specialty) are integrated throughout, providing additional layers of richness. VERDICT Reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled, this novel has a dreamlike quality that resists narrative structure and logic. Readers are best served by following where it leads rather than trying to solve the mysteries or find definitive answers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/18.]-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
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In her mysterious and engrossing second novel, van den Berg (Find Me) tells the story of recently widowed elevator sales rep Clare, who travels to Havana after her horror-film scholar husband, Richard, is killed in a hit-and-run near their home in Upstate New York. The couple had planned to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema together, specifically to see Cuba's first horror film, a zombie picture named Revolución Zombi, and Clare intends on seeing the trip through in Richard's honor. Shortly after arriving at the festival, between screenings and excursions close to the novel's titular hotel, Clare spies a man from afar who looks exactly like Richard. Though she knows it's impossible, Clare soon becomes convinced her husband has somehow been resurrected and begins searching for him. Toying with horror tropes and conventions, and displaying shades of authors such as Julio Cortázar, van den Berg turns Clare's journey into a dreamlike exploration of grief. This is a potent novel about life, death, and the afterlife. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Clare is a strange one. An elevator salesperson often on the road, she seems distant from her film-professor husband, even when she is home. As van den Berg's brooding, often-surreal, funereally bemusing second novel, following Find Me (2015), begins, Clare is in Havana, attending a film festival her husband would have participated in had he not been killed 35 days ago by a hit-and-run driver while out walking by himself, as was his habit. Richard's specialty was horror films, and van den Berg subtly emulates the genre in this spookily metaphysical tale about perception and illusion. Clare meets a documentarian making a film about suicides; she hallucinates and has painful memories, odd impulses, and confounding dreams. Her thoughts are spiked with weirdly violent images. Then she sees her husband on the street. She follows him to his simple home, and they go on a journey together that feels mythic. Has Clare accessed the afterlife? In sync with Vendela Vida's The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty (2015), van den Berg's entrancing, gorgeously enigmatic tale dramatizes the narcosis of grief.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2018 Booklist