When novelist Monica Ali decided to set her third book in a hotel kitchen, she did a year’s research, spending time in five different London hotels and reading a small mountain of non-fiction books about the restaurant and hotel trades. At the end of it, she had so much material that she almost didn’t know where to begin. Hotels are a rich source of stories and characters for writers, and commercial kitchens, with their intense pressures, a crucible for dramatic confrontation.
Ali’s novel In the Kitchen takes its place in a long tradition of hotels in fiction, from the recent (the Chelsea Hotel in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland) to the iconic (the creepy Overlook hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining) and the classic (the Grand Hotel des Bains in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice).
For a limited time only, Ali’s exploration of the literary hotel scene is available to read on the Prospect website. Read it here and, as ever, leave your own thoughts below.