Bloomsbury have published this brilliant novel by Kikuko Tsumura, translated by Polly Barton; There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job is a thorough exploration of someone trying to find the ideal job, limiting stress and impact on their personal life. Considered idyllic for readers of Convenience Store Woman or My Year of Rest and Relaxation, this is a dry yet humorous tale of one woman’s feelings of displacement in the modern workplace.
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.
She is firstly sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. But this is not only tiresome and energy consuming, this person is on her permanently on her mind. It became very clear that this was not the job for her.
And we see her move from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and compile trivia for rice cracker wrappers that have a large following of customers to putting up posters and working in a hut, monitoring a large segment of a park. I particularly enjoy her moment writing copy for the wrappers as she struggles with her creativity to create content that would keep cracker sales level or indeed further those. However, as we near the end of the novel, it is obvious that meaning is what she is really look for with her post, which all comes a little abruptly at the end.
The deadpan humour, the narrative structure, the prose all contribute towards a fantastic novel. A joy to read, with a degree of relativity, with burnout as a theme, and lightness and humour to render it wonderful, There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job is a stunning read for someone to consider looking to a new year, and a new start.
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job is out now, published by Bloomsbury