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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ARC Arrival: The Unit

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Publisher: Other Press

I received this book from Tony at Blue Dot Literary, LLC - Thanks Tony!

In this hauntingly familiar Western society, select groups of men and women are routinely checked into “The Unit;” an elite facility where members are housed in finely furnished apartments, fed healthy, even gourmet fare, and allowed to enjoy state-of-the-art recreational facilities for the rest of their lives. More importantly, however, they can finally make “meaningful” contributions to society.

In the world of The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, men over sixty years old and women over fifty—who are not engaged in “useful” professions, or are childless—are categorized as “dispensable,” and will enter a “Reserve Bank Unit” for biological material. Once inside, childless dispensables like fifty-year-old Dorritt Weger can live out their days in comfort, while they contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and donate their healthy organs, little by little, until making their final donation. Despite its undercurrent of ruthlessness however, the prevailing ethos of the Unit—and the society beyond—is to take care of others.

Resigned to her fate, Dorritt lives out her days in the Unit with peace and consolation. But when she meets a man inside and falls in love, Dorritt is faced with questions that challenge her at the very core of her identity; with the overtones leading to her ultimate decision: Escape or comply.

The Unit is a painfully gripping exploration of a society geared toward marginalizing and eliminating those who do not contribute by conventional means. A powerful and savvy indictment on achievement-based, utilitarian cultures, The Unit paints the portrait of a believable world where people—even the dispensables themselves—are gently coerced by group think to believe in the nobility of sacrifice for the sake of the necessary class.

Based on her own experiences, Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist delves into the nature of the female psyche, exploring its struggle to find an identity in the face of culturally-defined relevance, ageism, and gender roles based on child-bearing. Holmqvist has achieved a debut novel of humor, sorrow and tenderness, while exploring the bonds of love and friendship in a utilitarian existence, cynically disguised as compassion.

The Unit raises poignant questions that may finally receive their fair share of the spotlight as the Baby Boom Generation faces retirement en masse. Submitted for your review or profile feature consideration.


Ninni Holmqvist was born in 1958 and lives in Skåne, Sweden. She made her debut in 1995 with the short story collection Suit [Kostym] and has published two further collections of short stories since then. She also works as a translator. The Unit marks Holmqvist’s debut as a novelist.

Marlaine Delargy works as a translator and adult learning support tutor. She has translated novels by Åsa Larsson and Johan Theorin, among others, and serves on the editorial board of the Swedish Book Review. She lives in Shropshire, England.

The Unit
Publisher/Publication date: Other Press, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-59051-313-2
272 pages

2 comments:

debbiesworld said...

Wow, this book sounds great! Sort of reminds me of Unwind but for adults.

bermudaonion said...

I got this book too. I bet you get it read before I do.

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