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THE EMPLOYEES by Olga Ravn
Translated by Martin Aitken
Originally conceived as the companion piece to an art exhibition, The Employees charts the travels of the Six Thousand Ship as it drifts away from planet New Discovery with a host of strange artefacts. Each chapter is told by a different crew member (human, robot and something in between, identified only by number); and examines one of these artefacts as part of a report to some higher authority.
Filled with corporate jargon, dreamscapes, triggered memories, sensory descriptions and existential philosophy it gels and chaffs in equal measure, making for an entirely unique reading experience; an experiment in transhumanism. Think Ursula K Le Guin meets Upton Sinclair, refracted through a surreal, fragmented prism.
Nothing I say here could possibly do The Employees justice, though its meteoric rise into the literary stratosphere (#sorrynotsorry) ought to tell you something. Shortlisted for last year’s International Booker Prize, it’s now up for the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Award. It should have won the former. I hope it wins the latter. Just extraordinary.
The Employees by Olga Ravn (Tr. Martin Aitken)
Lolli Editions, 2020