Booker International 2021 – The Employees by Olga Ravn
Booker International Longlist Book 2 – Rated by panellist Rachel.
Translated by Martin Aitken from Danish
Published by Lolli Edition
Details from the official Booker Site:
Structured as a series of witness statements compiled by a workplace commission, The Employees follows the crew of the Six-Thousand Ship which consists of those who were born, and those who were made, those who will die, and those who will not. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew is perplexed to find itself becoming deeply attached to them, and human and humanoid employees alike start aching for the same things: warmth and intimacy, loved ones who have passed, shopping and child-rearing, our shared, far-away Earth, which now only persists in memory.
Gradually, the crew members come to see their work in a new light, and each employee is compelled to ask themselves whether they can carry on as before – and what it means to be truly living. Wracked by all kinds of longing, The Employees probes what it means to be human, emotionally and ontologically, while simultaneously delivering an overdue critique of a life governed by work and the logic of productivity.
About the Author
Olga Ravn (b. 1986) is one of Denmark’s most celebrated contemporary authors. She is also a literary critic and has written for Politiken and several other Danish publications. Alongside Johanne Lykke Holm, she runs the feminist performance group and writing school Hekseskolen.
Rachel’s Thoughts: On the Six-Thousand Ship, employees, both human and humanoid, are invited to contribute interviews to a workplace study – interviews that show how similar the categories are becoming, and the increasing levels of dissatisfaction and division on the ship. The final report from The Committee is both chilling and uncomfortably familiar in its view of what constitutes success.
This was such an interesting, original read, with questions of what makes us human and what it means to feel. You start to recognise and empathise with individuals through the reports. Lots to ponder and return to in this one.
Writing quality: 4/5
Character development: ¾
Plot development: ¾
Overall enjoyment: ½
At Night all Blood is Black 18/20
The Employees 16/20
Have you read this one? What did you think?
I won’t be reading this one, although it does sound interesting. I am about to tackle Klara & the Sun, which also poses the Big Q : what makes us human?