Author: Ninni Holmqvist
Original title: Enhet
Edition Language: English
One day in early
spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for
biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside
the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art
recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in
comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of
fifty and men over sixty-single, childless, and without jobs in
progressive industries--are sequestered for their final few years.
In the Unit they are expected to
contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately
donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation.
This is the book we read in Tales & Co. book club during November 2017 and mostly the impression was negative.
I would not say I particularly liked the story, but I have enjoyed it. It is a slow first person narration with frequent reminiscence of the past and mood changed from healthy indifference to deep depression. The book does not explain anything, does not bring reasons for such society, does not have evaluation stand, it just gives you the picture how it is now and leaves you to deal with the facts. And you do not have much, only bits and bobs that Dorrit gives in her narration. The book has such a grayish tone: there is no tragedy nor hope - it is something that all residents of the unit feel silent meekness. Even the perception of the characters is vague - I cannot picture anybody, even though they were described in details - all of them is a gray mass of submissiveness. Only Elsa I can see clearly in my mind, the rest are people with blurred mass instead of faces.
But anyway, in all this grayness the difficult topics come out and make you think. For me the most striking was the indifference of youth to matters of the old. Only a couple of lines where Dorrit tells about the deliberation about "dispensable" when she was young and how she did not see it possible, made me think about the perception of time. It was quite thought provoking read and, though, it has a similar topic to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, it is still captivating and unique book.
Despite of all above, I had my difficulties with the book. Mainly with the narration itself: the language seems dry and unemotional, which made it difficult to enjoy the prose. Another quite disturbing feature was the detailed description of everything the characters eat, drink or do. It was like rewinding narration: first we have a quick section of events of several months and then paragraphs of character dress, room and sandwich description.