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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
A finalist for the Booker Award in 2001, Ali Smith's fiction debut is a truly inventive narrative that is told through the voices of a handful of different characters. Among them is the 19-year-old hotel chambermaid Sara Wilby, who, in a fleeting moment of terrible imprudence, wagered a coworker that she could fit her entire body into the hotel dumbwaiter. She did, but under her weight the cables snapped, and in a matter of seconds she fell four floors to a violent death.
However, readers meet Sara only after her fatal error in judgment; now she is a ghost wandering the scene of her accident, desperate to experience again even a few precious moments of earthly existence. From her incorporeal vantage point, Sara is able to observe both the daily lives and future destinies of her family and her former coworkers, all of whom struggle to come to terms with her foolish act -- without quite realizing that in doing so, they will allow Sara to move on as well. As her energies begin to wane, the ghostly Sara becomes obsessed with learning just one last thing: exactly how long it took for her to die. To accomplish this, fate must play a different hand, bringing five unrelated people from very different walks of life together in the typically transient setting of an urban hotel.
Ali Smith's explicit, unsentimental prose and brilliantly precise descriptions of the disassociative, catastrophic, but also redemptive aftermath of a sudden death make Hotel World at once a challenging, sad, beautiful, and ultimately comforting love- and life-affirming novel. (Winter 2002 Selection)