Novels exploring our relationship with work

Over the last year, many of us have experienced a seismic shift in the ways and expectations of our workplaces. Some jobs have evolved to be almost unrecognisable from their previous form, some jobs and industries have disappeared almost entirely or are just hanging in there; very few jobs, if any, remain unchanged by our circumstance. Where we might go from here?

Below are seven books which explore our complicated and changing relationship with work. They speculate paths our society may take, while also seeking to illuminate paths we may unknowingly be taking already.


Gunk Baby by Jamie Marina Lau

Throughout a childhood spent moving between different countries, one thing was constant for Leen. The local shopping centre. Within those complexes the familiar landscape of logos, the bright lights, the climate controlled environment and the interactions between workers and customers never changed. So, when Leen decides to open a healing studio, the Topic Heights shopping complex is the perfect location to build a business and connections.

Read our staff review here.


There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kiko Tsumuru (translated by Polly Barton)

A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that requires no reading, no writing - and ideally, very little thinking. As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful…

Read our staff review here.


Temporary by Hilary Leichter

‘There is nothing more personal than doing your job’. So goes the motto of the Temporary, as she takes job after job, in search of steadiness, belonging, and something to call her own. Aided by her bespoke agency and a cast of boyfriends - each allotted their own task (the handy boyfriend, the culinary boyfriend, the real estate boyfriend) - she is happy to fill in for any of us: for the Chairman of the Board, a ghost, a murderer, a mother. Even for you, and for me.


The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century by Olga Ravn (translated by Martin Aitken)

The crew of the Six-Thousand Ship 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. The Employees probes into 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.


Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Meet Buck. But before Buck was the Muhammad Ali of sales, floating like a butterfly and selling like a demon, he was Darren: an unambitious twenty-two-year-old living with his mother and working at Starbucks. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in Darren joining Rhett’s elite sales team.


On the Line by Joseph Ponthus (translated by Stephanie Smee)

Unable to find work in his field, Joseph Ponthus enlists with a temp agency and starts to pick up casual shifts in the fish processing plants and abattoirs of Brittany. Day after day he records with infinite precision the nature of work on the production line: the noise, the weariness, the dreams stolen by the repetitive nature of exhausting rituals and physical suffering. But he finds solace in a life previously lived.

Read our staff review here.


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)

Meet Keiko. Keiko is 36 years old. She’s never had a boyfriend, and she’s been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Keiko’s family wishes she’d get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won’t get married. But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she’s not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store…

Read our staff review here.

 Read review
Gunk Baby

Gunk Baby

Jamie Marina Lau

$32.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...