The Beautiful Bureaucrat: A Novel

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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2015

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.

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About the author

Helen Phillips is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and the Italo Calvino Prize, among others. Her collection, And Yet They Were Happy, was also a finalist for the McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize, and her work has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts and appeared in Tin House, Electric Literature, Slice, BOMB, Mississippi Review, and PEN America. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Henry Holt and Company
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Published on
Aug 11, 2015
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781627793773
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Thrillers / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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«Un libro muy extraño y muy sincero sobre lo que de surrealista tiene el trabajar en una ciudad, habitar un cuerpo perecedero y amar a otro mortal. Aunque comparte ADN con Kafka y Shirley Jackson, pertenece a una nueva especie». Karen Russell, autora de Tierra de caimanes «Una fábula bella, inquietante y divertida, con la aparente ligereza de Calvino y la bondad de espíritu de Saramago». Ursula K. Le Guin «Una imaginación salvaje, brillante y excéntrica. Su mirada disecciona los terrores cotidianos de manera maravillosa e inesperada». Lauren Groff, autora de En manos de las furias «Un original debut, innovador en su forma y emocionalmente complejo, firmado por una de las más estimulantes escritoras del panorama actual». Jenny Offill, autora de Departamento de especulaciones «Una lograda parábola sobre la vida y el amor, sobre la muerte y el nacimiento, que se lee como un auténtico thriller». Joshua Ferris, autor de Entonces llegamos al final «Una invitación a un viaje por nuestros sueños, pesadillas y remoniciones con Helen Phillips como guía. Se lo recomiendo a todos y cada uno de ustedes». Kelly Link, autora de Magia para lectores Si las perspectivas laborales no hubieran sido tan sombrías durante ese húmedo verano, es probable que Josephine no hubiera aceptado el puesto de administrativa en un edificio sin ventanas situado en la periferia. Su tarea consiste, exclusivamente, en introducir interminables series numéricas en la enigmática Base de Datos. Pero a medida que pasan los días y los inescrutables impresos llenos de cifras se van acumulando, Josephine empieza a sentirse cada vez más amenazada por el inquietante entorno: el zumbido de la ventilación, el color rosáceo de las paredes, el eco en los largos pasillos... Cuando su marido desaparece de improviso y la verdad sobre la naturaleza de su empleo comienza a perfilarse, su creciente malestar se transforma, ahora sí, en absoluto temor. La oficina es, a la vez, el infierno y su contrario: un espacio inmejorable para lo distópico y lo surrealista, al tiempo que un no-lugar en el que cumplir los más acabados sueños de perfección existencial. Como Margaret Atwood o Murakami, Phillips hace saltar las costuras de la realidad saturándola de extrañeza y significado, logrando así que las cotidianas preguntas sobre el sentido del trabajo o de la vida en pareja alcancen tanto al ser humano como al perpetuo enigma de su origen.
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