"A Raise Raises Complex Issues"—George Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise


"George Perec's books in English are always the best looking," declares Laird Hunt in a recent review of The Art of Asking Your Boss for a RaiseStylistically, Verso's 2011 edition of Perec's neurotic and pessimistic vision of office work "is every bit as handsome as its predecessors."

Handsome presentation isn't the only good news here. If The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise isn't likely to engender a significant reenvisioning of the Perec archipelago, it at least adds an outlying island of genuine interest.

By abandoning all punctuation and conventional sentence structure The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise reads like a computerized stream of consciousness—an internal dialogue on the perils and possibilities of approaching the boss. As translator David Bellos  writes in his introduction to the text, "translating a text which is close to being unreadable in the original is a paradoxical but not particularly difficult task, since ordinary readability is hardly an issue." Hunt's review praises Bellos' brilliant translation skills:

His rendering is as sharp and flat and relentless as the original. The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is as odd and interesting in English as it is in French.

Visit Words Without Borders to read the review in full.

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