The employees are getting restless.
Trapped in a nameless, New York company, they are buffeted by Orwellian management-speak, inter-office sabotage and inappropriate contact. There is Pru, a former graduate student turned spreadsheet drone. There is Laars, whose anxieties manifest as tooth-grinding dreams. There is Jack II, who treats coworkers to unwanted backrubs — “jackrubs.”
And then begins the downsizing.
Welcome to Personal Days, the acclaimed corporate satire by fiction writer Ed Park.
At 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, Park will read from his work for Washington University’s Writing Program in Arts & Sciences.
The talk — presented as part of The Writing Program’s fall Reading Series — is free and open to the public and takes place in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall. A reception and book signing will follow.
For more information, call (314) 935-7130.
Dubbed “the Wizard of Whimsy” by The New York Times, Park is a former editor of the Voice Literary Supplement as well as founding editor of the Believer. His articles, essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Bookforum, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. Last year, he was hired by Amazon Publishing to acquire new fiction for the imprint.
Personal Days was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award, the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. It was named one of Time's Top Ten Fiction Books of the year and one of The Atlantic's top 10 pop culture moments of the decade.
The Los Angeles Times writes that “the modern corporate office is to Ed Park's debut novel Personal Days what World War II was to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 — a theater of absurdity and injustice so profound as to defy all reason.”
“The downsized staff huddle like the crew of a doomed spaceship,” adds The New Yorker, “picked off one by one by an invisible predator.”