I’ve read this twice now (see https://mybecky.blog/2022/08/07/the-employees-by-olga-ravn/) and actually this last time should count as a third time because I kind of studied the book, taking copious notes. There is so much that is striking about this novel. .
A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century
by Olga Ravn
Read by Hannah Curtis 2h 31m
Rating – 9.5 / literary sci-fi novella
Taking place on a space ship with a large crew (employees) of both humans and humanoids Ravn explores what it means to be human vs humanoid. The humans were brought there from Earth at some point while the humanoids were “born” (hatched?) there. The humans miss the Earth and their prior lives while the humanoids are barely discovering what it means to be alive. And there are the “objects” which they picked up on their travels. These are supposedly not even alive but they do seem to have strange effects on the employees.
The book is comprised of short usually 1 or 2-page numbered “chapters” or “statements,” in which the employees are being interviewed by someone from staff. One number is repeated – 054, but she has what she calls an “add-on.” Also, from the interviews themselves, it seems like she has other interviews with other numbers. The interviews are with both humans and humanoids and slowly the reader is able to piece together the difference between them and then discern what is going on in the spaceship with its humans, humanoids and objects. Read carefully, I noticed and understood so much more on my second reading.
It’s a beautiful, haunting, evocative, sensory book of yearnings.