The English-language debut of one of Japan's most exciting new writers, The Factory follows three workers at a sprawling industrial factory. Each worker focuses intently on the specific task they've been assigned: one shreds paper, one proofreads documents, and another studies the moss growing all over the expansive grounds. But their lives slowly become governed by their work--days take on a strange logic and momentum, and little by little, the margins of reality seem to be dissolving: Where does the factory end and the rest of the world begin? What's going on with the strange animals here? And after a while--it could be weeks or years--the three workers struggle to answer the most basic question: What am I doing here? With hints of Kafka and unexpected moments of creeping humor, The Factory casts a vivid--and sometimes surreal--portrait of the absurdity and meaninglessness of the modern workplace.
There is a matter of fact tone to the writing as we follow chapter by chapter the different factory lives of these workers. Things are sometimes a bit strange. But not so strange as to be alarming. Just a bit worrisome. However, over time (and time is a factor here), their engagement with the factory becomes more nuanced. Or stranger. And there’s something odd about the fauna.
This was an intriguing scenario. The writing reminded me of Magnus Mills crossed with Kafka. So, a bit alienating. Yet it was also a series of finely drawn portraits of these characters as their own existential anxiety comes to dominate their self-perspective and their relations with others. Not too surprisingly the various story lines cross before the end, but they do so in ways that are unexpected. And Oyamada also has a very curious manner of dealing with the dialogue, occurring at different times, yet mingled in the same paragraph. It forces you to periodically stop what you are doing and figure out who is saying that and when. Clearly deliberate, but to what end? I liked it.
Gently recommended for those willing to take on something just a bit out of the ordinary.
I can't wait to read the author's next one, The Hole, published by New Directions in 2020.
Interesting world, some funny moments, but...
I'm not sure if it was fully translated -- no shade on the translator -- but...
WTF just happened?