The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Other Press, New York, 2009

Won in a give-away.

Dorrit Weger has turned 50.  She finds herself in a small, lovely apartment, where every corner, every space, even inside the closet, is in in range of a closed circuit camera.  This is the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material.  As a “dispensable”, unloved and un-needed, Dorrit will live out her final days with others, free of financial worry,  as long as she is willing to undergo certain tests and give up vital organs.

Dorrit misses her boyfriend, she missed her house and her dog, but she has no choice in this decision.  The laws and procedures for how she will live out her life after the age of 50 are part of the social structure.

Holmqvist’s novel, skillfully translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, is a mirror of our possible future.  Cool and calm in language, nothing is overwrought, it all feels like a stroll down the antiseptic white hallways that lead from one space to another in this self-contained community.

The Unit is a subtle, scary book.  With a bit of digging you find  that some  of the “testing” that goes on in the novel  is already happening.  Patients are willing to put themselves in mortal danger for the fees they earn.  It is not hard to imagine a future where those who do not fill societal needs could be put in such situations.   This is speculative fiction at its best.

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Filed under 42SciFiChallenge, New Authors 2010, Random Reading, SciFi Challenge, SpeculativeFiction

10 responses to “The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

  1. I remember reading reviews on this book, and I remember attempting to win a giveaway (probably lost to you – haha). This is totally my type of read. Spooky stuff, particularly because we aren’t so far from it in reality!

  2. I remember reading about this one on a few other blogs and it struck me as very similar in content to Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go… only this one sounds better, which is good, because I didn’t much care for NLMG! I love dystopian/speculative fiction so hopefully I can get past my NLMG issues and give this one a try!

  3. lena

    I truly loved this book – if I had done a best of 2009 this would have surely been on it. The characters and the setting still stay with me.

  4. I’ve read other reviews of this book too. It sounds creepy as hell.

  5. There’s so much interesting stuff coming out in English now from Scandanavia. I’ll look for this one. Sounds very good.

  6. Ti

    I haven’t read this one yet but the cover says it all…it’s so sterile and stark.

  7. I have this on my shelf waiting to be read, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and I find dystopian fiction so interesting. Thanks for the review!

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