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"[A] 21st-century response to Herman Melville's 'Bartleby, the Scrivener.'"—NPR
A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing, and ideally, very little thinking.
Her first gig--watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods--turns out to be inconvenient. (When can she go to the bathroom?) Her next gives way to the supernatural: announcing advertisements for shops that mysteriously disappear. As she moves from job to job--writing trivia for rice cracker packages; punching entry tickets to a purportedly haunted public park--it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful. And when she finally discovers an alternative to the daily grind, it comes with a price.
This is the first time Kikuko Tsumura--winner of Japan's most prestigious literary award--has been translated into English. There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job is as witty as it is unsettling--a jolting look at the maladies of late capitalist life through the unique and fascinating lens of modern Japanese culture.
Kikuko Tsumura is a writer from Osaka, Japan. She is the winner of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize and numerous Japanese literary awards including the Akutagawa Prize, Noma Literary Prize, Dazai Osamu Prize, and a New Artist award.
Polly Barton is a translator based in Bristol. Winner of the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs's International Translation Competition, she has received the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize and the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize.