2020 was a pretty garbage year all-round, but damn if it didn’t produce a truly excellent crop of books in translation.
The fine folks at Bloomsbury were kind enough to send me There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura, translated into English by Polly Barton, just to make sure my year didn’t end on a bum note (I’m assuming…).
This is the story of a young woman who wants a job that’s close to home and not too taxing, a 2020 mood if there ever was one. As she spins through the revolving door of busy-work, her story turns into a searing indictment of late-stage capitalism and its hold on our mental and emotional stability.
There’s almost no interrogation of the unnamed narrator’s past or personal life, beyond the fact that she left her previous long-term job under stressful circumstances and currently lives with her parents. Each chapter is devoted to a different “easy” job she takes on, each with its own unique set of at-times farcical challenges.
This is a book about the quiet desperation of searching for equilibrium, the perfect note on which to end the year.