A recent read-turned-favourite is There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job, written by Kikuko Tsumura and translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton. The narrator, burned out from her previous job, tries out a series of temp jobs with the caveat that they must be as undemanding as possible: “ideally, something along the lines of sitting all day in a chair”. Contrasted with our society’s focus on finding meaningful work, this premise is compelling from the start. The chapters are divided by the jobs she tries out and each job starts off seemingly mindless—watching a surveillance camera, writting factoids for cracker packages—only to become entangled with strange complications. Both the narrator and the reader begin to get the sense that there’s truly “no such thing as an easy job”—is it the jobs that are complicated and/or does the narrator bring her own sense of eerie dis-ease to every job she tries? Voice is especially strong in this novel, making the most mundane jobs engaging as the narrator tries valiantly but unsuccessfully to find a boring, easy job. Fascinating commentary on the effect of late-stage capitalism and one’s relationship with work.
Christine Wu is a Chinese-Canadian poet living in Kjipuktuk/Halifax,NS. She is the winner of the 2023 RBC PEN New Voices Award and was a finalist for the 2022 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.
You can find Christine Wu's poetry in Issue 297 Autumn 2023. Order the issue now: