It's an arena where dramas of power, insecurity, pride, jealousy, attraction, repulsion and politics are played out every single day. Not to mention bitchy water-cooler chatter. One would think that this was fertile ground for any novelist; yet, few and far between are novels that deal with, in Alain de Botton's words, "the intelligence, peculiarity, beauty, and horror of the workplace".
First, a caveat: the context in which I speak of 'work' here is your garden-variety white-collar 9 to 5 routine. Otherwise, Philip Roth's fine evocation of glove-making in American Pastoral or Hemingway's fishing lore in The Old Man and the Sea, to take just two examples, would make them 'work' novels. No, what one has in mind is the daily commute, the clocking in at a regular hour, the dealing with co-workers and slippery objectives and the journey home. Much like Odysseus's journey to Ithaca, come to think of it,
Herman Melville's odd yet riveting novella, Bartleby the Scrivener, is among theRead More »from Novels at Work