ARC, Book Review

There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

Firstly, huge thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with an eBook and a print copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

As soon as I saw this novel pop up on my Twitter I knew I just had to read it, whether it be an ARC or a bought copy I just had to have it. Not only does it help me on my quest to read as many Japanese novels as possible, but it also covers the subject of work burnout which is something that hits close to home for me. 

There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job follows the life of a thirty-six year old woman who is returning to work after taking a year off after suffering from severe burnout from her last job. Her only request of the agency is that she be given an easy job, preferably a desk job that requires little to no thought or responsibility. From monitoring a reclusive author through surveillance tapes to writing bus adverts for businesses that keep mysteriously appearing and disappearing, our protagonist discovers that there may not be such a thing as an easy job and that burnout can happen in any profession… 

The entire novel is from the perspective of our mysterious unnamed protagonist. I didn’t notice for a while that she didn’t even have a name as I was just so absorbed in her narrative that I just didn’t realise. Looking back I really like the decision not to give much of a name or background to the character as it easily allows the reader to slot themselves into her life. I mean, how many of us have wished for an easy, no stress, job? At first you may think of the protagonist for being a little childish in her request but as the novel progresses, you begin to understand where she is coming from and witness how easily she finds herself giving her all to a job, even if it is temporary. As the novel features several different locations, we also meet a whole cast of interesting characters which made each job even more unique and, in some cases, mysterious. 

I really liked how the novel was split into parts and how each part focused on a different job, despite each part having a separate focus the novel didn’t feel disjointed in any way. I enjoyed how each job was seemingly random and some being jobs that I would have never have thought of before. Some of the jobs even had elements of magic realism or mystery to it, some I could figure out or theorise and some that left me wishing that we were provided with answers. However, I understand that this is entirely dependent on the reader and some people will love the lack of explanation offered in some parts. As the novel progresses we learn a little more about the protagonist and I loved how it wasn’t until the end of the novel where we get the answer to a question that I was asking throughout the book!

As you can tell I really enjoyed this book and thought it was great! It effortlessly captures how disillusioned you can get with work regardless of the job and how something that you may enjoy at first can quickly become a source of stress, and even paranoia. I love Tsumura’s writing style and thought the translation from Polly Barton still captured Tsumura’s unique voice and I would love for more of her work to be translated into English in the future.

Be sure to check this novel out when it is published tomorrow, 26 November 2020!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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