The Employees

Olga Ravn

Regular price $27.95


A deeply poetic novel, composed of a series of numbered employee statements gathered by a 22nd century workplace commission, it is also totally unnerving, and quite alive—or maybe, “Too living” (Statement 014). It is a very sensory text, full of minute particularities describing shapes, textures, smells—so singular in each particular, “[a] flicker between 0 and 1” (Statement 163). It is concerned with distinctions and boundaries—between human and humanoid, subject and object, dead and alive, the familiar and the unfamiliar—which are most often blurred and uncertain.

But after all: “Everything has to travel so far to come into existence” (Statement 047). I read this book front to back, then back to front, then at random, opening the book to a different page each time, to a different numbered statement. The book terrified me! But I couldn’t stop returning to it. Perhaps I’ll borrow from the text just once more: like one of the objects discovered on the planet New Discovery, this book too is “[a] secure and pleasant vessel, holding inside it a disaster retold” (Statement 057). - IT

Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken

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 Ravn’s 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.

Hardcover || 144 pages || New Directions Publishing || 4.80" x 7.60"