Literature 101

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.


Certain areas notwithstanding, the Garden State is lovely. Really. No nuclear fallout here.


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.


Oh look....Happy Pills


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).

53 comments:

  1. I love dystopian lit. and you listed great classic examples. A few modern ones that I enjoyed were Blindness by Jose Saramago and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and for YA, The Giver by Louis Lowry.
    I'd love to have my name thrown in, thanks so much.

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  2. Yes please - I won't say I love this sort of literature, but I would love to try it...
    Also - thanks for the 411 - it's great to fill in all the blanks.

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  3. I'm finding that I really do love dystopian literature. So, yes please!

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  4. I wouldn't have been able to define it in my own words, but I do know I love dystopian literature. The Hunger Games? The Lois Lowry trilogy? Blindness? The Road? I might even have to say that this is one of my favorite genres, now that I think about it. Please include me in the list of those who enjoy this creeping out! rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com

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  5. I really like dystopian lit. I'm all for the creepy feeling when reading about a society gone wrong. I'd like to throw my hat in for this one.

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  6. I've been hearing good things about this one. But since I'm old enough to go to the unit and I wonder about my contribution to society -- may I should just take happy pills and forget about it. I think I'll pass on this book for now.

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  7. Ooh, this one's on my to-read list. Please include me in your giveaway.

    Thanks :)

    Amanda
    fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  8. Don't enter me - I've read this one already and thoroughly enjoyed it. It really made me think about what we should value in our society.

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  9. I still have yet to see a bad review of this one. Excellent! (No need to enter me. Just saying hello!)

    Lezlie

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  10. I'll pass on the book.. but definitely an interesting topic and nope, I didn't know the word dystopian etc... We have gone froma world of cool overachievers to simply have's and have-not's.

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  11. Don't enter me a sI have this one sitting here to read already. I keep sort of dancing around it, not sure I am up for the bleak, depressing feeling that overcomes me when I read dystopian lit. But I haven't seen anyone knock this one so I'll probably get to it sooner rather than later.

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  12. I am also reading a Swedish noir dystopic thing! I thought they were supposed to be the happiest society - what's up with all the noir dystopias? Please enter me for yet more Swedish unhappiness.

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

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  13. I didn't know I liked dystopian literature but apparently I do, at least based on your list and a couple of others. I'd love to give this book a try.

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  14. Dystopian literature is fascinating and I would love to be entered in your draw!
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

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  15. I am 'curious' about this book...please count me in...thanks.

    karen k
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  16. Dystopian lit is fun to read. Nice summarization. Please enter me.

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  17. Oh, first you pick on the Duggers (ok, actually second in time posted but first in time read) and now you pick on NEWARK, NJ, my hometown!!

    ...and a place I was delighted to leave and not visit again.

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  18. ok, I was whining so much, I forgot to say I would love my hat thrown in the ring for this one. Love dystopia books and love Swedish authors so....

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  19. Caite - I swear to goodness, I'm not picking on you, LOL!!! I'm in Newark at least 3 or 4 times a week, so my picking on it is purely out of love!

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  20. I enjoy dystopian stories; they often provide food for thought. I want to read something serious lately and THE UNIT seems nice. I hope to win this one.
    linna.hsu AT gmail DOT com

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  21. I have this one on my list that I want to read. I'm pretty new to dystopian literature, but so far I'm liking it. I would love to win this so count me in.

    crystalfulcher*at*ec.rr.com

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  22. Hi there. I was just reading reviews about The Unit the other day. Please add my name to this one. Thanks.

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  23. The Newark comparison was hilarious, oh and the happy pills too. You probably do need some of those after a dystopian reading overload.
    I'll have to look into Unit, sound intriguing.

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  24. Thanks for the definition. I had no idea. This one intrigues me more than anything. Yes, I think I'd like to win it!

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  25. I have found that over the years I really enjoy dystopian literature. It is a little like critical theory which deconstructs the philosophical constructs to show the fallacy of what we think we believe in and who is perpetrating the thoughts to control our lives. These type of books although depressing give great food for thought and prompt all of us to always re-examine what is really happening around us.

    I would love to read this book. Count me in.

    bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net

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  26. Just stumbled upon your blog, lucky me. I have never read a book like this one but would really like to start. Please enter me into your contest.

    jmb0923@gmail.com

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  27. I haven't read dystopian lit in some time. This does sound interesting.

    Thanks for the entry!

    gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

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  28. Great offer, onde again!
    :)

    carlos_durao AT hotmail DOT com

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  29. Please enter me

    kaylacunningham@ymail.com

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  30. I haven't read any dystopian lit yet. But I have plenty on my TBR list. I added ths one recently after reading a really great review (other than yours of course lol) So I'd love a chance to win this =)

    Thanks!

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  31. Well, count me in!

    educhico AT gmail DOT com

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  32. Please count me in.

    Mystica]


    mystica123athotmaildotcom

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  33. o_rei_de_havana AT hotmail.com
    Thanks for this!
    ;)

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  34. I have some good things about this book.

    Throw me in please.

    lilwhiteninja at yahoo dot com

    Thanks

    Tricia

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  35. I'd love to be entered. Thanks~

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

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  36. Count me in, please!
    :)

    dr.strangelove.vs.citizen.kane
    @
    gmail.com

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  37. Great giveaway!
    :D

    catarina DOT magoito AT gmail DOT com

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  38. Oh, I would really like to win this one!
    Thanks!

    39 DOT 5susy AT gmail DOT com

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  39. Hello and thank you for this!
    This seems like a great read!
    Count me in!

    goncalo.mil AT gmail.com

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  40. A friend just warned me about this!
    Great giveaway!
    ;)

    joanapatriciadias AT gmail DOT com

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  41. I can't believe I almost missed this giveaway! That's what happens when I get SO behind on my blog reading. I'm not a huge fan of dystopian lit although this one sounds very intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway!

    shereadsandreads(at)gmail(dot)com

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  42. Oh, seems like a great book!
    Count me in, pleaseeeeeeeeee!

    tanitalves AT sapo DOT pt

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  43. Oh, goody!
    :)

    mauagd[@]gmail.com

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  44. luisfilipebarros88 AT gmail DOT com

    This books seems amazing!
    And from a country that has been producing great and greatly divulged literature in recent times!

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  45. International!
    You're the best!
    I will try my luck!

    rosamariabarrosmaria
    @
    gmail.com

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  46. joaomiguelrocha85{@}gmail{.}com

    I fell in love with the book just from your words and that cover!
    Best of luck to everyone, but I hope I win.
    I will keep coming to your blog!
    :)

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  47. I love dystopian literature.
    I would say my favourites are THE TRIAL, WAR WITH THE NEWTS, ANIMAL FARM, BRAVE NEW WORLD, 1984, CRASH, NAKED LUNCH, THE MACHINE STOPS and NEUROMANCER.
    Some of them became a little "old" in terms of style, but are still amazing!

    augustod56[at]gmail[.]com

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  48. Hi there!
    Just found this amazing blog!
    So good giveaways and so good reviews!
    I'm now a fan!

    isispath AT gmail DOT com

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  49. No harm in trying.
    We never know when we'll get lucky.
    And a free book is one of the great things for a reader!

    Best regards!

    mariabarros1987 [@] gmail.com

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  50. I saw this on another blog.
    I supposed this was for US & Canada only, which is the normal thing, but when I read carefully, I was happy to see it was otherwise.
    So, thank you, and keep on reading and writing!
    I will keep on coming to check this out!

    filipemaria90 AT gmail DOT com

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  51. migueljardim85[at]gmail[dot]com

    So, I was reading some posts on the blog, because it seemed only fair, if I was going to participate in this giveaway just arriving here, and I loved the humour you put into this!
    The reviews are great but the little "everyday notes" on your relationship with books are even better!
    :)

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  52. Hello!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is a tasty giveaway!
    I thank you in advance, for even if I don't win, I will buy the book that I just gain awareness of!

    alexsweetbabygirl AT gmail DOT com

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  53. I know I'm too late for the giveaway, but I'm adding this to my list of books to look for. Thanks!

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Fire away!