Sadvertising

Ennis Cehic

Sadvertising
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Sadvertising

Ennis Cehic

An electrifying collection of stories from the febrile imagination of a young writer who traverses culture, genre and form.

A man grows tired of his open-plan office and builds a fort made of stationery. A woman’s euphoria at finally achieving Desktop Zero is quickly replaced with despair. A group of copywriters dream of being poets, and a disillusioned sales executive overthinks his think piece.

In the mind-bendingly upside-down world of Sadvertising, iPhones have feelings, brands come to life, creative directors disappear into parallel universes and lowly freelancers become immortal. It’s a world where gods, ghosts and muses stalk the corridors of bland and placeless offices, and the wondrous exists alongside the mundane.

Short, punchy and direct, Ennis Cehic’s satirical fables are box-fresh and shot through with pitch-black humour, existential dread and late capitalist yearning for meaning. They grapple with love and loneliness, art and commerce, dream and reality, and reflect the absurdity of the modern condition.

Sadvertising is a surreal, subversive and utterly contemporary literary debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Review

In the pages of Ennis Ćehić’s debut, Sadvertising, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of stories and perspectives, each an intriguing reflection of our own perplexing modern reality, rendered in a combination of wry detachment, sharp social satire and corporate ennui. From brief fable-like glimpses into the amusing contradictions of workplace culture to more ambitious tales of technological futures or magic realist unrealities, each story reflects the author’s relentless creativity, leaping from idea to idea, never lingering anywhere longer than necessary. While the sheer volume of the collection’s 50 stories can feel overwhelming, burying Ćehić’s best stories among ones that are merely good, it also represents a wealth of variety that all but guarantees at least one of these stories will stick with you, whether it’s the pure absurdity of ‘Versuchskaninchen’, in which a professor of the ‘pissing figure’ in art history encounters a urinal that knows a little too much, or the genuinely tragic ‘Archiving’, in which a man memorialises his dead lover through her digital footprint.

Unsurprisingly, given its title, the collection’s stories are lodged firmly in the world of advertising, where the ironies of late capitalism are at their most glaring and the craft of writing has become just another cog in the machine. Although this consistent focus on the creative malaise of the modern advertising agency does drain some of the stories of their otherwise abundant imagination – all too often focused on copywriters or creative directors – it also allows the collection to act as an autobiographical reflection on Ćehić’s own experiences as an adman-turned-writer. This is especially evident in the mind-bending trio of self- referential stories appropriately titled ‘Meta Ennis’, where the fourth wall is not so much broken as wilfully obliterated. It’s a level of ambition that ultimately pays off, delivering a varied yet cohesive commentary on the strange modern world we’ve created and the absurdities that come with trying to live in it.


Joe Murray is a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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