This month’s book club selection was The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. It was a translation so parts of the language were a little flat but what a great read if you’re looking for something to fire you up! A fictional novel about a futuristic society where 50-year old childless women and 60-year old childless men with “unnecessary” jobs are deemed dispensable and required to check themselves into a Biological Reserve Unit where they are forced to donate blood and organs while participating in “humane” experiments until time for their final donation (aka euthanized) – all while living expense free and wanting for nothing. While it is based on a futuristic society it mirrors our own in many ways, vaguely telling how the leaders of the society made small changes that spanned almost the lifetime of the main character – a woman raised by a forward-thinking mother who warned her against ever being trapped into being dependent on anyone besides herself. Next thing she knows, she’s a writer who’s always just gotten by, never found herself pregnant and now 50 and dispensable heading into the Unit for her final days. The final days that ended with a twist and makes you think about what you would do in her shoes.
I can’t lie – the feminist in me as well as the writer HATED this world and all it stood for and I found myself marking pages for quotes and scribbling three pages of notes as I read so I wouldn’t forget a single topic for the book club discussion. (The discussion was one of the most heated on record.) This book is not about character development but is instead about very deep ethical and moral topics delivered in a thought provoking story. I recommend it for anyone and everyone! Regardless of your views you are bound to feel an emotional response to this fabulous little read!
One word of caution to those more “sensitive” readers. This book was originally published in Europe where sex is viewed and discussed in a much more plaintive way. Many in my book club found that aspect to be superlative and at times even distasteful. I’ve read smuttier so this in no way was trashy but may be a bit stark to those who have never experienced a more European outlook on the relations between men and women.