The hotel residents are astutely portrayed in this early novella about a returning POW, but it lacks the power of Roth’s later workReturning from a Siberian POW camp after the first world war, Gabriel Dan finds that the Hotel Savoy appears to offer everything he requires while he waits to be reunited with his family: “It promises water, soap, English style toilet, a lift, maids in white caps.” What he finds, however, is seven floors of despair, where the warren-like corridors are inhabited by an assortment of dreamers, failed revolutionaries and lame ducks who will never be able to settle their bill, let alone leave. Joseph Roth, an Austrian Jewish journalist who died destitute in 1939, observes that the hotel represents the social order turned upside-down; the wealthy and well-fed occupying the grand public rooms on the ground floor while the poverty-stricken are stacked into squalid garrets above. The portraits of penniless chorus girls and lottery addicts are astutely done, yet the narrator, Gabriel, remains self-effacing to the point of transparency. Roth’s writing got into gear with his saga The Radetzky March; with its enervating passivity, this early novella, translated by Jonathan Katz, seems mostly stuck in neutral.PaperbacksFictionAlfred © …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books