Cover image for The factory
Title:
The factory
Uniform Title:
Kōjō. English
ISBN:
9780811228855
Physical Description:
116 pages ; 21 cm
Summary:
The English-language debut of one of Japan's most exciting new writers, The Factory follows three workers at a sprawling industrial factory. Each worker focuses intently on the specific task they've been assigned: one shreds paper, one proofreads documents, and another studies the moss growing all over the expansive grounds. But their lives slowly become governed by their work-days take on a strange logic and momentum, and little by little, the margins of reality seem to be dissolving: Where does the factory end and the rest of the world begin? What's going on with the strange animals here? And after a while-it could be weeks or years-the three workers struggle to answer the most basic question: What am I doing here? With hints of Kafka and unexpected moments of creeping humor, The Factory casts a vivid-and sometimes surreal-portrait of the absurdity and meaninglessness of the modern workplace.
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Summary

Summary

The English-language debut of one of Japan's most exciting new writers, The Factory follows three workers at a sprawling industrial factory. Each worker focuses intently on the specific task they've been assigned: one shreds paper, one proofreads documents, and another studies the moss growing all over the expansive grounds. But their lives slowly become governed by their work--days take on a strange logic and momentum, and little by little, the margins of reality seem to be dissolving: Where does the factory end and the rest of the world begin? What's going on with the strange animals here? And after a while--it could be weeks or years--the three workers struggle to answer the most basic question: What am I doing here?With hints of Kafka and unexpected moments of creeping humor, The Factory casts a vivid--and sometimes surreal--portrait of the absurdity and meaninglessness of the modern workplace.


Author Notes

Born in Hiroshima in 1983,Hiroko Oyamada won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for The Factory , which was drawn from her experiences working as a temp for an automaker's subsidiary. Her novel The Hole won Akutagawa Prize. David Boyd is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has translated stories by Genichiro Takahashi, Masatsugu Ono and Toh EnJoe, among others. His translation of Hideo Furukawa's Slow Boat won the 2017/2018 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. With Sam Bett, he is cotranslating the novels of Mieko Kawakami.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gabe Habash is the author of Stephen Florida and is the deputy reviews editor of Publishers Weekly.


Kirkus Review

In Oyamada's cautionary English-language debut, three recent hires at an inscrutable industrial factory find themselves bewildered by their strange new world."In times like these, a job's a job," Yoshiko thinks before signing on as a contractor who will shred documents all day in the basement of the eponymous factory. Her brother has taken a temp position proofreading the factory's paperwork, a task so dizzying and incomprehensible that he can't stop falling asleep at his desk. The factory itself is staggeringly large and byzantine; its bureaucracy is predictably opaque; and strange new species are mutating within its walls. This phenomenon we observe mostly through Furufue, a moss scientist hired to green-roof the factory complex, who, given neither direction nor deadline, is left to languish in an unstructured sinecure. But as the narration judders disorientingly across time and multiple perspectives, we realize that neither characters nor plot are the point of this book; rather, Oyamada is interested in crafting an atmospheresomewhere between mind-numbingly mundane and mind-bendingly surrealto explore and illuminate the depersonalizing nature of work in contemporary Japan. This results in a kind of lobotomized Kafkaesque quality: The novella's protagonists are so disaffected that they don't have any depth or agency; and after a century-plus of modernity and its discontents, the satire comes across as tame rather than trenchant. What's new and interesting here is the ecological aspect of the critique: Oyamada deftly ties together the plights of human and nature, both becoming unrecognizable in an inflexible industrial economy. But with so few moments of intimacy or optimism, the novella is ultimately a document of deadpan despair, resigned to exaggerate the absurdities of the present rather than try to change them.Tedium, meaninglessness, and alienation abound in this urgent but unsubtle fiction about the Japanese precariat. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.