The Beautiful Bureaucrat

Author(s): Helen Phillips


A New York Times Notable Book Best book of the year in the New York Times, Bustle, Time Out, The Atlantic, Slate, Electric Literature 'Funny, sad, scary and beautiful. I love it' Ursula K. Le Guin If the job market hadn't been so bleak during that long, humid summer, Josephine might have been discouraged from taking the administrative position in a windowless building in a remote part of town. As the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings - the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls, her boss has terrible breath, and there are cockroaches in the bath of her sublet. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread. Both chilling and poignant, this novel asks the biggest questions about marriage and fidelity, birth and death. Helen Phillips twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder - luminous and new.


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Chilling... the perfect summer page-turner Chicago Tribune Riveting... thrillerlike... Ultimately, The Beautiful Bureaucrat succeeds because it isn't afraid to ask the deepest questions The New York Times Book Review Kafka would love The Beautiful Bureaucrat... It's a surprising revelation of a book from an uncompromising author as unique as she is talented NPR A joyride... a very weird, very beautiful, very honest book about the surreal business of working in a city, living in a fertile and dying body, and loving another mortal...While it may have DNA in common with other urban work and life and love stories, with Kafka and Shirley Jackson and Haruki Murakami and the Coen brothers, it really is a new species of tale... Readers follow Josephine on a tightrope walk over the abyss, where the stakes are total, and the prose is exuberant and taut, dire and playful -- Karen Russell Slate Unusual... deeply interesting... irresistible... Mrs. Phillips has a wickedly funny eye, a fine sense of pacing, a smooth, winning writing style and a great gift for a telling detail...breathtaking and wondrous New York Times Equal parts mystery, thriller, and existential inquiry... The Beautiful Bureaucrat asks uneasy questions about work and life, love and power, and where the whole enterprise of one's own small life is swiftly headed The New Republic Part dystopian fantasy, part thriller, part giddy literary-nerd wordplay, Helen Phillips' The Beautiful Bureaucrat is both a page-turner and a novel rich in evocative, starkly philosophical language... eerie, stomach-dropping... this novel ultimately proves both clever and impossible to put down L. A. Times A bewitching parable Vanity Fair An addictive, uncanny experience... Her prose is exact, at once ominous and droll, and her pacing is perfect. As she probes the mysteries of marriage and mortality, choice and chance, freedom and fate, her pages command close focus - and fly by very fast The Atlantic Mesmerizing... the perfect kind of strange to keep your brain twisted into knots during a flight (think Kafka or Calvino), and the kind of thrilling that'll have you on edge until you've run out of pages to turn. You'll devour this one before wheels-down on the tarmac Elle Uncanny and Kafkaesque... By turns, the novel is goofily funny, creepy and unsettling, life-affirming and sweet, deeply thoughtful and pointedly critical of modern workplace culture...A strange, yet unsettlingly resonant, fable that melds mystery, sci-fi, romance and satire to chillingly skewer the modern workplace yet somehow leave us reaffirmed in our humanity The Huffington Post Told with the light touch of a Calvino and the warm heart of a Saramago, this brief fable-novel is funny, sad, scary, and beautiful. I love it -- Ursula K. Le Guin A satisfying parable of love and life, death and birth, and the travails of transposed numbers. The Beautiful Bureaucrat reads like a thriller -- Joshua Ferris A thrillingly original debut, formally inventive and emotionally complex. Helen Phillips is one of the most exciting young writers working today, and I envy those who get to discover her work here for the first time -- Jenny Offill The Beautiful Bureaucrat has the compulsive quality of a mystery and the furious urgency of a fever dream. I picked it up and read it everywhere: on the subway, over breakfast, in bed when I should have been sleeping, at work when I should have been working. It will coax you into its world with the crystalline precision of its prose, so full of heart and strangeness it might even crawl into your own dreams and find you there -- Leslie Jamison In the bleak hallways of bureaucracy, Helen Phillips explores what it means to make a life one's own. The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a page-turning mystery, a love story and a revelation -- Ramona Ausubel

Helen Phillips is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award, the Italo Calvino Prize and more. She is the author of the widely acclaimed The Beautiful Bureaucrat. Her debut collection And Yet They Were Happy was named a notable book by The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Electric Literature, and The New York Times. An assistant professor of creative writing at Brooklyn College, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

General Fields

  • : 9781782273325
  • : Pushkin Press
  • : Pushkin Press
  • : March 2017
  • : 216mm X 135mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Helen Phillips
  • : Paperback
  • : en
  • : 813.6
  • : 192