There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job ~ by Kikuko Tsumato

I read this specifically because August is “Women In Translation” month.  I read three other books earlier this year which could have done it and two of them were also by Japanese writers, but I wanted something new.  Fwiw, I really enjoyed the others, too, they were: 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori. 

Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto translated by Ann Sherif

The  Discomfort of Evening  by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison. 

There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job
by Kikuko Tsumato
Translated by Polly Barton 
2020 – 405 pages
Read by Cindy Kay 
Rating: 8.5 / contemporary fiction

There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job is the story of a single, 36-year old woman who has left a job due to a nervous breakdown and is now working at temporary jobs. The book follows her through five different temporary jobs, each of which is a few weeks or months long and none of which really fit.  When she leaves her original job she’s almost allergic to stress but over time it seems like she takes it on herself.  Overall, it’s almost more like a book of connected short stories in which the tension builds gradually.  

The jobs she works at include surveillance of a probable smuggler, writing ads to go in a bus service, working at a rice-cracker company, putting up posters for community services, and a ticket-puncher at a museum/park. She comes across some underhandedness, there’s maybe some magic hinted at and then there are some investigations.  Strange and surprising things happen at each job and as time passes and she changes – as would be expected. 

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/25/980832546/theres-no-such-thing-as-an-easy-job-takes-gentle-aim-at-japans-work-culture

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