Rooms for Rent
ORIGINAL TITLE: Rum för resande
AUTHOR: Hans Gunnarsson
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Albert Bonniers Förlag
A young couple are driving through Sweden in search of the woman’s biological mother, whom she has never met. In a rural location further south, a woman, Britt-Mari, runs an old inn together with her grown up son.
When a couple with a young child calls to book a room, Britt-Mari takes it as a sign the article about her inn recently published in a national newspaper has had the expected result; she is, of course, completely unaware that one of the prospective guests is the daughter she gave up for adoption long ago.
The summer heat is oppressive. Never-ending, back-breaking drudgery, that has always been my lot, Britt-Mari thinks to herself as she studies and tries to understand her son’s erratic, evasive behaviour with mounting concern. He skulks about the inn and rows aimlessly and inexplicably around the lake, always with a wariness that awakens painful memories in his mother. The past invades the present:
“One disaster had always followed the next, with no room to recover. Everything was still inside her. Closing her eyes, she could hear her own cries echoing across the water.”
Hans Gunnarson’s suspenseful novel brings to mind the tragedies of Ancient Greece. The contrast between explicit and implicit – between the sealed car and the open, silent landscape – creates a tension that slowly builds toward inevitable violence. Rooms for Rent is a surprising, chilling psychological drama.