Not up to speed on all the specialized genres of literature out there? Thank goodness you have A Reader's Respite here to fill you in on the 411. (And you, in return, can fill us in on slang that isn't straight out of the 1990's.)
Familiar with dystopian literature? We weren't either. Chiefly because we weren't sure what the hell dystopian actually meant.
As it turns out, dystopia means - and we take this directly from the supreme source of knowlege, Wikipedia - "the vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain."
Kinda like downtown Newark, New Jersey.
So really, you are familiar with dystopian literature. Classic examples of the genre include H.G. Well's The Time Machine, Huxley's Brave New World, and Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Basically any novel that required a prescription of Xanax after reading.
But good dystopian literature can provide an insight into current societal trends and open our eyes to the bigger picture.
The Unit is a newly-released novel written by Swedish author Ninni Holmgvist (with an excellent translation by Marlaine Delargy) that explores our societal obsession with productivity.
How far could we, as a society, take the concept of "usefulness"? If a human being isn't productive and contributing to society, are they useful? And what, when it comes right down to it, does it mean to contribute to society as a whole?
Enter Holmqvist's creepy world, where the "unproductive" members of society are made productive, whether they like it or not. No, we're not talking about a slave labor camp here. What if the non-productive amongst us were used to keep the productive folks, well, productive? Think organ donation before you're ready to give them up and you've got a good idea how creepy, yet eerily possible, Holmqvist's theory really is.
This novel is exceptionally well written with just the right balance of plausibility and darkness. Best of all, this is a novel that makes you question our morals and values as a society. The road to hell, as they say, is indeed paved with good intentions.
Highly recommended reading.
And now A Reader's Respite must go find a way to be productive and useful because somehow we're thinking that blogging just won't hack it.
In the mood to try this one out? You won't regret it! Leave us a comment if you're up for it and then check back here on September 17th to see if you won (international peeps, as always, are welcome to enter).