Book review: Then we came to the end by Joshua Ferris

I was reading this book in the library and found the first few chapters amusing. The book is written in the first-person collective which is interesting to start with but then becomes problematic because there isn’t anyone I particularly felt anything for and I didn’t really feel anything for the collective voice either. The novel is set in an advertising agency which is in the processes of firing people. I get that the individual characters in this novel are not as relevant or significant as the overall emotional state of all the people in the workplace, but for me, it just didn’t work. To a large extent it is because the novel glosses over some of the very problematic systemic issues in all workplaces which are related to inequality between genders, ethnicities and disabilities. Also, compared with a lot of workplaces, this is one where people in it are privileged which lessens the impact of any life traumas they go through given what we know happens in the majority of workplaces which are especially brutal to those on minimum wage or those who are denied any opportunity for progression or training or who get fired and harassed simply because of who they are. So, I didn’t really find this novel all that amusing, perhaps it is because it is written from a singular perspective of a certain income group/educational group of workers. That said, I’m sure I have read books set in advertising agencies which reveal the actual brutality and bleak humour in this particular business sector.

 

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