Ada’s Room is confusing. It contains overlapping plotlines, narrators and even languages — while somehow managing to remain obstinately obvious in the arenas in which novels should resist easy interpretation: ethics, politics and power. Ada’s Room feels less like a novel... than a novel-length treatise on the idea of systemic oppression ... Despite its didacticism, Ada’s Room still holds pleasures: the careful echoes between sections, the ways images and characters recur, Otoo’s clear depth of reference.
Otoo’s captivating use of language is the thread that ties these varying yet overlapping tales together. One of the most innovative and effective devices in the novel is the use of objects – a broom, a doorknob, a room – as narrators; it creates a sense of an objective, omnipotent eye. There are inevitable moments of disorientation, especially when the stories merge or flit quickly between the different Adas’ lives, and there’s the unavoidable potential for wanting more or less of certain threads ... Adas Raum is nonetheless an impressive and highly original work, brimming over with energy.
Several times throughout the novel, characters glimpse their reflections in surfaces overlaid with what is outside: a corpse, bare branches. This is an apt metaphor for the novel itself as layers of history accumulate, a palimpsest of upheavals that are always both personal and part of larger political forces that show the power-seeking... attempting to crush the powerless. This is a novel that demands a great deal emotionally and intellectually of the reader, but its boldness and ambition leave an indelible imprint.