Random Fiction

There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

Translated by Polly Burton

In between my other reads, I recently managed to squeeze in a few books from my library. On the heels of the last Japanese translated work, this is another strange book that I read at the right time.

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A lot of my personal experience went into colouring my read of this book. After having read a few translated works this year, the first thing that hit me was the way I felt like I was reading it in the original language. At no point did any of the description or communication seem stilted or worse, incomprehensible.
I have been unemployed in the typical job sense for longer than I ever worked, and it has been so long that I now want to do something that I feel contributes somewhere meaningfully. I no longer think of it in the monetary sense (although a fat salary is always a plus), but realistically I want to do something that I can see the result of regularly. I am not making as much of an effort as the lead protagonist of the book makes. But it also means I can feel the frustration that imagining a perfect role does not necessarily beget one.
We encounter a woman burned out in her original career and feels the need to take up a job for insurance reasons. She says she wants to do any job that does not require her to take responsibility or use her mind too much. With a few alterations over the course of her journey, this demand is what charts her ‘adventure’.
I use the word adventure loosely since it is not action-packed, but it is one of new experiences and changing realizations. Each time our leading lady is given a job, she does a little more than is required, as if she cannot help herself bring some colour to an otherwise drab job description. I read it one day, on a train- half on the way out and the other on the way back, and I liked the first half better than the second. The introspection that is evident in the first few roles does not match the ones in the latter half (or so it feels to me). The tone changes and the small ‘twists’ at the end of each job are also very different.
I did recommend it to a friend who did not enjoy it as much, but I would still recommend it to anyone who has ever thought of their job or anyone else’s in abstract terms.

2 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura”

  1. While it was entertaining and introspective, I did find the second part of the novel a little underwhelming, just like you. Many of those who are in the workforce (like us, haha) can relate to the situations that the anonymous narrator found herself in, from her frustrations, to her doubts, to the pleasures she find in the most quotidian of tasks. Overall, it was an interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would not find many books with this kind of a plot line. I recommended it to a friend soon after, she did not enjoy it as much. At intervals she wanted to know if there were to be any twists! :’)


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