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The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century
The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century | Olga Ravn
21 posts | 22 read | 27 to read
Shortlisted for the International Booker prize, The Employees reshuffles a sci-fi voyage into a riotously original existential nightmare Funny and doom-drenched, The Employees chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids. Olga Ravns prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.
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review
Chelsea.Poole
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Pickpick

What will life be like in the next century? We can only speculate about the condition of our planet and what humankind will do as a result. Ravin wrote a novel in the form of “interviews” with employees aboard the Six Thousand Ship to give readers a glimpse of what could be. There‘s humanoids vs humans, a new planet with unsettling “objects” and a deep longing for earth, but still petty workplace squabbles. Smart! #tob23 long list.

Chelsea.Poole I‘m extra excited (and feel slightly like it‘s cheating) because it was on @TheKidUpstairs ‘s #auldlangspine list. BUT, I was already reading it and more than 70% done when the lists were delivered. @monalyisha NOT cheating! I promise! 😉 just goes to your epic matchmaking skills! But this book is a real thinker! 20h
monalyisha Ha! Don‘t worry; I‘m not monitoring! I think several people started early last year. I‘m not here to dole out judgment. 😉 I love that you were already reading, it, though — especially when it‘s not one that I‘ve seen many folks review thus far! (edited) 20h
See All 16 Comments
RebelReader Look how much employment changed since the pandemic! 20h
sarahbarnes Great review! I really loved this one, too! 19h
batsy Yes, so smart! And strange and haunting. 19h
squirrelbrain Great review! I hadn‘t really fancied this one, but now I might….! 19h
Ruthiella I also really liked this title. So familiar and yet not. And I liked all the gaps left it the story, allowing the reader to fill them with their own imagination. 18h
Chelsea.Poole @ruthiella yes!! This book demands so much from the reader. @squirrelbrain At first I was confused, and not so sure it was going to work for me. However, the pauses between chapters/interviews allowed for reflection and to really imagine what might be going on. 17h
Megabooks Excellent review! This is on my list once I can get a print copy. 17h
Chelsea.Poole @rebelreader oh definitely! I didn't even make that connection to this until you just mentioned it. There's so much to discuss with this one. 17h
Chelsea.Poole @sarahbarnes @batsy yes! Strange and haunting for sure! I must admit, many of these entries I read twice just to get it to sink in a little more. 17h
Chelsea.Poole @megabooks “speculative“ is 110% the descriptor for this one. I read the ebook and it worked well for me, as I read it in snippets on my phone over a week or so. 17h
Hooked_on_books I liked this one, but it took me forever to figure out what the heck was going on! 16h
Chelsea.Poole @Hooked_on_books same!! And I‘m still not exactly sure…lol 9h
Readerann Ah, if only I were a faster reader and/or had more time. So many of the longlist books sound good. 😩 5h
69 likes16 comments
blurb
Oryx
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One last treat before Christmas...

bnp I've been wanting to read this one. My library owns it, but I'm trying to read down my library stack first. 5d
squirrelbrain Ooh, let me know your thoughts - this is on the #tob longlist. 5d
55 likes2 comments
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TheKidUpstairs
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Started this one yesterday, will likely finish it today. I'm slightly obsessed with it. If you like sci-fi novellas that are big on the questions, short on the answers, this is a book for you!

BarbaraBB I enjoyed this one so much too. Such an intriguing book! 3w
61 likes4 stack adds1 comment
review
vivastory
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Aboard a spaceship, a series of interviews are conducted between the titular employees (who are human & android) and an unknown, yet increasingly menacing, figure representing outside interests. Meanwhile there are mysterious objects in a couple of the rooms that could be causing hallucinations, or more, in the crew. A lyrical satire of corporate life in the stars that often felt completely relevant to the humdrum earthbound. One of the most 👇

vivastory singular books I've read lately. Thanks again to @simona for sending this my way awhile back. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I loved it! (Picture credit: Yves Tanguy, who I was reminded of while reading about the objects onboard). 1mo
stevesbookstuf1 Sounds really interesting! 1mo
vivastory @stevesbookstuf1 It takes a little bit to get your bearings with this one as none of the interviewees are named, they're just given numbers, but once you do it's worth it 1mo
See All 15 Comments
Megabooks Great review! 1mo
vivastory @Megabooks Thanks! This will definitely make my best of the year list. 1mo
Reggie Sounds fascinating. 1mo
batsy Great review! I can still remember how I felt during moments of this book. Very Solaris-esque. 1mo
Aimeesue Excellent review! 1mo
Liz_M This is one that I like better in retrospect. Which probably means that I like the idea of it more than the execution. 1mo
sarahbarnes Great review. I really liked this one, too. 1mo
Bibliophile13 Just finished the employees - it was excellent 1mo
BarbaraBB A memorable read for sure. 1mo
TheKidUpstairs Just finished this one, definitely goes on my list as one of the best this year. I was amazed by how engaged I was right off the bat with absolutely no clue what was going on. Her ability to craft an emitting connection between the reader and the characters, without identifying them and with just a few short lines, was like nothing else I've read. 3w
TheKidUpstairs That should say emotional connection, not emitting. Darn auto correct 🤣 3w
vivastory @TheKidUpstairs Somehow emitting connection is also fitting 🤔😅 This is definitely a favorite of the year for me too. Exactly the kind of sci-fi I like. 3w
73 likes4 stack adds15 comments
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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

What an interesting little book! I went in blind and went from “what on earth is going on here?!?” to “hmmmmm” to “oh wow.” I like that she gives just enough in this book to tell you what‘s happening but trusts the reader to do the rest. And there‘s so many possibilities at the end. This one is really good.

BarbaraBB Totally agree! Too bad it didn‘t make the shortlist. 2mo
50 likes1 stack add1 comment
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charl08

Sometimes the humanoids are very quiet. They've started sitting at the same tables together in the canteen. They sit in a row and take in their nourishment. It's as if without a word being said between them they've some how agreed to be silent. Only a fool should believe that silence is consent. Their keeping quiet seems more like a conspiracy than a willingness to serve. Yes, that's correct, I'm nervous about it.

BarbaraBB I just finished this one. Still thinking about it! 2mo
charl08 @BarbaraBB appropriately, in a world of its own... 2mo
39 likes1 stack add2 comments
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charl08
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Key word 22nd here. Unusual book!

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BarbaraBB
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#BookReport 39/22

I had a great reading week. Three of these books were really excellent. The Rabbit Hutch and Africa is not a Country the favorites, followed closely by The Employees.

TrishB Good week 👍🏻 2mo
54 likes1 comment
review
BarbaraBB
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Pickpick

The 22th century. A group of people and very human-like humanoids is sent into space. They are employees on a unknown mission.
We get to know them a bit and learn what‘s happening on board by their recorded statements. Or we think we do. Nothing is clear, the book is much more about questions than answers.
Big questions, regarding themes like humanity, affection, and transience.

It‘s a tough little book and it packs a punch. I‘m very impressed.

sarahbarnes Yes! I really liked this one, too! So bizarre and good. 2mo
batsy I thought it was pretty brilliant, too. 2mo
Ruthiella I liked this book too. The blank spaces worked for me. They gave me lots of room to make up my own connections. 2mo
See All 8 Comments
nathandrake1997 I loved this book ❤️ 2mo
Megabooks Stacked!!!!! 2mo
BarbaraBB @Megabooks you should. Look at those recommendations above! ❤️❤️ (edited) 2mo
BarbaraBB @nathandrake1997 I reread your review and your comments @batsy and I knew I was in for something special. 2mo
BarbaraBB @sarahbarnes @Ruthiella I feel fortunate to be in such be in such awesome company ❤️❤️ 2mo
67 likes7 stack adds8 comments
review
nathandrake1997
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The Six Thousand Ship. An intergalactic spaceship meant to transport a species to another "habitable" planet once their planet of previous habitat has been reduced to ecological ruin. The ship needs to travel quite a distance. In order to keep the ship functioning, the passengers need to be kept "productive"....(continued in comments)

nathandrake1997 ....There are two kinds of passengers on board: humans and humanoids. The humanoids were created to resemble as closely to their human peers as possible, while at the same time, also to fill the existential gaps that the "human experience" renders in a human being, so that productivity in the ship can be increased.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....There is a room in the ship where certain objects are stored, objects meant to remind the passengers of their "Earthly" connection. A committee has been established to conduct interviews of both the humans and the humanoids about their relationship with these objects and the consensus of these interviews will be used to improve productivity on the ship.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Now, the above synopsis sets the stage for Olga Ravn's delicately melancholic existential novella THE EMPLOYEES. The narrative structure is a fragmented form wherein each fragment is an interview of a passenger. The passenger can either be a human or a humanoid.... 3mo
See All 21 Comments
nathandrake1997 ....The fragments initially appear to be arranged out of order because numerically the fragments indicate so. But, while reading between the lines for thematic nuances, one realises that in a way these fragments are indeed arranged in order, only that the order is thematic rather than numeric.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....In the initial fragments, the passengers talk about their relationship with the aforementioned objects, mainly about how in some or the other way it reminds the human passengers of "home" while the humanoid passengers experience a spark of curiosity pertaining to the human experience.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....But as the fragments pass by, the musings get more existential. From humans questioning the purpose of this seemingly never ending journey to humanoids wondering whether "productivity" is all there is to existence.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....The humans also gradually start musing about the point or rather the pointlessness of life, especially on the thought tangent that whether life is worth preserving in these circumstances when day to day existence doesn't even resemble the human experience anymore.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....In one of the most evocative fragments, a woman muses about a recurring dream she has about her burning her dress and the dress turning into violet eggs before burning away. She is in charge of disposing malfunctioning humanoids. Humanoids turn into violet eggs before burning away completely.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Eggs are usually related with birth and the burning away of an egg in this context can be interpreted as a subconscious desire of the woman to wither away from existence. Maybe her mind is writing a visually vivid suicide note while physically she is constrained with the indoctrinated notion of "being productive".... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....The above example is one of the many instances of symbolic allusions to existential experiences that Ravn masterfully weaves within the mosaic of a formal fabric that presents a thematic whole to the readers willing to partake in the aforementioned weaving along with Ravn.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....In many instances, Ravn's writing, while gloriously original, also evokes intriguing influences that feel like an homage rather than mere imitation.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Some fragments speak about a potential romance brewing between a human and a humanoid passenger, echoing Andrei Tarkovsky's science fiction masterpiece SOLARIS (1972) while the later fragments where passengers contemplate about terminating the program at the face of impending doom reminds one of the penultimate scene in Tarkovsky's final and often overlooked masterpiece THE SACRIFICE (1986).... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....where one of the principal characters burns down his house along with all his possessions while attempting to escape into the unknown out of fear of the impending doom imminent to be caused by the nuclear war that has broken out.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Along with Tarkovsky, one can even find references to Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science fiction classic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, especially during the instance when one of the fragments is about a rogue humanoid who, after murdering a human passenger, is talking about how humans are detrimental to the program and speaks about his despicable actions in a positive light... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....because the rogue humanoid feels like he has contributed to the "productivity" of the program and wouldn't think twice before perpetrating a similar crime again. Reminds one of HAL 9000, right? 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....There are many more potential references I probably missed, a prospect more than enticing for an undoubted re-read! 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Inspite of its concise 125 page length, this is a novella so thematically rich that it has a lot to offer both on the first read as well as in subsequent re-reads.... 3mo
nathandrake1997 ....Overall, Olga Ravn's magnificent novella THE EMPLOYEES is that rare literary miracle that is concise in form and encyclopaedic in scope ❤️ 3mo
batsy I found that it evoked Solaris and Space Odyssey, too! Felt like a written form of those visual wonders. I haven't watched The Sacrifice and shall make a note to do so. 3mo
nathandrake1997 @batsy If Tarkovsky had written a novel, it would have been something like this ❤️ 3mo
batsy I just saw that when I reviewed it a year ago I also felt it had Solaris vibes 💜 3mo
14 likes21 comments
review
stretchkev
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Bailedbailed

This one was too experimental for me to get a handle on.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Pickpick

I am saying pick because it is bold, and there are some gorgeous and interesting sentences in here.
But I have to say I don't think I understand most of what happened.
Quick #womenintranslation read.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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"we're drawn by each other's unhappiness, it pulls us down towards each other, as if we were caught in a funnel, and at the bottom of the funnel we sit and whisper"

#alphabetgame #letterE #womenintranslation
@Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Thanks for playing! 4mo
20 likes1 comment
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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"I know you say I am not a prisoner here, but the objects have told me otherwise."

#womenintranslation
Not exactly sure what is going on in the book but many of the sentences make a punch.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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I have some library work to do.

LeslieO Yes you do! Love the wine glass and I also loved The Sparrow. 🙂 4mo
ChaoticMissAdventures @LeslieO I hear such good things about that one! 4mo
16 likes2 comments
review
catiewithac
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Pickpick

The poet Olga Ravn was inspired by sculptures to write a novel about the destruction of a futuristic workforce. The crew of the Six Thousand Ship share the story of their demise in a series of HR interview recordings. As the conflicts between human and humanoid workers escalate, readers are left with an unsolvable mystery. What does it mean to be alive? To be human? What is the purpose of life?

wisherwishinguponastar That sounds so cool! I was caught by the cover and how awesome it looks on top of your puzzle, but that sounds really interesting! 5mo
52 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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sarahbarnes
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Pickpick

An eerie, mysterious and mildly disturbing story told through a series of interviews of the inhabitants of a space ship, this book had been on my list since last year‘s international Booker. Very clever and entertaining.

BarbaraBB I have wanted to read this ever since too! 7mo
vivastory Great review and this is a great cover 7mo
28 likes2 stack adds2 comments
review
rachelsbrittain
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Pickpick

A strange, somewhat esoteric, but well-written novella about the Six Thousand Ship and its human and humanoid crew, told through a series of memos, interviews, and complaints. It becomes increasingly clear that things are not right on the ship, between the mesmerizing effect of some objects that have been brought on board and the tensions between human and humanoid crew. Confusing at first but hints about what's happening are slowly revealed.

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rachelsbrittain
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Auntie life: exhausting but wonderful 😍

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rachelsbrittain
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My reads on this snowy day

ChaoticMissAdventures I have Sarah Gaileys too that I need to start! She did a promo on Twitter yesterday that got me very excited for it! 9mo
50 likes1 comment
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TheBookStacker
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Starting this tiny weird book tonight.

kbibliophilific Sounds intriguing .. lol 10mo
33 likes1 stack add1 comment