The Beautiful Bureaucrat

The Beautiful Bureaucrat

A Novel

Book - 2015
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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by Time Out , Bustle , The Atlantic , Electric Literature , Kobo , Kirkus and more...

"Riveting... thrillerlike...drolly surreal...Ultimately, The Beautiful Bureaucrat succeeds because it isn't afraid to ask the deepest questions." The New York Times Book Review , Editor's Choice

"A joyride..." -Karen Russell

NAMED A MUST READ OF THE SUMMER by the Chicago Tribune , Los Angeles Times , Bustle, The Huffington Post , Buzzfeed , HelloGiggles and more...

A young wife's new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in a first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as "funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it."

In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.

As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781627793766
Branch Call Number: PHILLIPS
Characteristics: 180 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

LPL_KimberlyL Sep 17, 2016

An absurdist novel that satirizes how disturbing working as a bureaucrat can truly be! Humor, suspense, domestic drama... This one defies genre.

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SFPL_danielay Oct 11, 2016

A creepy but fascinating novel about a young woman working in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy while trying to build a life with her husband in a nameless city. Don't read this if you have an unsatisfying date-entry job.

LPL_KimberlyL Sep 17, 2016

An absurdist novel that satirizes how disturbing working as a bureaucrat can truly be! Humor, suspense, domestic drama... This one defies genre.

CMLReads_Kristin Jul 27, 2016

A quirky, spare novella. Readers who enjoy George Saunders' work will likely enjoy. While it lacks the humor of Saunders' oeuvre, it has a similar feel in that it is a simple, fable-like story that makes you think.

harringtonj1018 Feb 21, 2016

The characters are underdeveloped, the plot is incredibly jumpy, and the author's use of anagrams was interesting the first few times but became incredibly tedious and eye-roll inducing as the book progressed.

Sep 16, 2015

Set in something of a parallel universe (but one that perfectly mimics the paranoia inherent in contemporary office culture), a somewhat rootless young woman discovers that her new low-level clerical job may literally have life and death implications. I recommend this novel as a thoroughly enjoyable thriller with a modern philosophical undercurrent; a short and fast-paced read with an emotional storyline and quite a sly twist.


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