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About the Author
Martin Aitken has translated the work of contemporary Scandinavian writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard, Peter Høeg, Ida Jessen, and Kim Leine. He was a finalist at the U.S. National Book Awards 2018 and received the PEN America Translation Prize 2019 for his translation of Hanne Ørstavik's Love. His translation of Olga Ravn's The Employees was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize. Aitken lives in Copenhagen.
Few stories today are as sublimely strange and their own thing as Olga Ravn's The Employees. This disorienting, mind-bending expanse recalls as much the poetry of Aase Berg as the workplace fiction of Thomas Ligotti. Something marvelously sui generis for the jaded.--Jeff VanderMeer
A deeply sensory book, suffused with aroma and alert to tactility... The Employees is not only a disconcertingly quotidian space opera; it's also an audacious satire of corporate language and the late-capitalist workplace, and a winningly abstracted investigation into what it means to be human... This clever, endlessly thought-provoking novel catches something of our recursive search for the nature of consciousness; a question that answers itself, a voice in the darkness, an object moving through space.--Justine Jordan "Guardian"
Beautiful, sinister, gripping. A tantalizing puzzle you can never quite solve. All the reviews say that the novel is, ultimately, about what it means to be human. What makes it exceptional, however, is the way it explores the richness and strangeness of being non-human.--Mark Haddon
What might result if Ursula K. Le Guin and Nell Zink had a baby.-- "Tank Magazine"
An achingly beautiful mosaic of fragile characters managing their longing, pain, and alienation. This gorgeous, evocative novel is well worth the effort.-- "Publishers Weekly"
In brief numbered statements delivered by the human and nonhuman crew of the Six Thousand Ship to a shadowy committee, Ravn seeds her narrative with direct and allegorical reflections on transhumanism, disappearing nature, and the ambiguities of being embodied... The novel is by turns queasily exact about what is seen--skin pitted like pomegranate, an object's furrows oozing some nameless balm--and willfully obscure. Ambiguity is everything: "I don't know if I'm human anymore. Am I human? Does it say in your files what I am?"--Brian Dillon "4columns"
The Employees asks important questions about what makes up human consciousness, and also, critiques corporate language that can make its way into our lives sometimes without us knowing. It's very funny. It's very interesting. I definitely recommend checking this one out.--Corinne Segal "WNYC"
A book that strikes a rare balance between SF philosophy and workaday feeling all while whirling through space.-- "Kirkus"
The most striking aspect of this weird, beautiful, and occasionally disgusting novel is not, as its subtitle implies, its portrayal of working life on the spaceship. What The Employees captures best is humanity's ambivalence about life itself, its sticky messes and unappealing functions, the goo that connects us to everything that crawls and mindlessly self-propagates, not to mention that obliterating payoff at the end of it all.--Laura Miller "New York Review of Books"