The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise

Darkly funny account of the office worker’s mindset by the celebrated French novelist

A long-suffering employee in a big corporation has summoned up the courage to ask for a raise. But as he runs through the looming encounter in his mind, his neuroses come to the surface: What is the best day to see the boss? What if he doesn’t offer you a seat when you go into his office?

The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is a hilarious account of an employee losing his identity—and possibly his sanity—as he tries to put on the most acceptable face for the corporate world,with its rigid hierarchies and hostility to new ideas. If he follows a certain course of action, so this logic goes, he will succeed—but, in accepting these conditions, are his attempts to challenge his world of work doomed from the outset?

Neurotic and pessimistic, yet endearing, comic and never less than entertaining, Perec’s Woody Allen-esque underling presents an acute and penetrating vision of the world of office work, as pertinent today as it was when it was written in 1968.


  • “Its wit and comedy encourage compulsive consumption.”
  • “A hilarious and inventive office-drone odyssey.”
  • “We readers will have to deal with the fortunate burden of clearing shelf-space for another novel by Perec this spring, with the first English translation of The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise.”
  • “As a witty indictment of corporate culture and an artifact from one of the 20th century’s most bizarre literary movements, The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise—as with all the works of Georges Perec—is a puzzle too absurd not to explore ... [it] will interest any reader who has ever worked in a large bureaucracy and considered himself underpaid.”
  • “Perec's novels are games, each different. They are played for real stakes and in some cases breathtakingly large ones. As games should be, and as literary games often are not, they are fun.”
  • “We defy you to walk by this book and not pick it up. Perfectly packaged and immediately intriguing!”
  • “A brilliant … conceptual, comedic novella from the writer who wrote the postmodern masterpiece Life: A User’s Manual.”
  • “An acute and penetrating vision of the world of office work.”
  • “Perec’s knack for absurdity and circumlocution ensures that each iteration is novel and urgent.”
  • “[A] fun read for someone who enjoys computer programming and corporate irony, and would make a perfect gift for the office mate with a good sense of humor.”
  • “[A] terribly compelling work, one that does a great deal with very little. With his use of repetition, which also evokes a pre-set mechanism, Perec establishes a rhythm of sorts, while his subtle deviations from the pattern serve as moments of dark comedy.”
  • “Certainly something different, and quite enjoyable.”


  • Poole posits Perec perecquially

    The Guardian’s Steven Poole embraces the expression that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to its literal extreme in his review of Georges Perec’s The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise, also known as L’art et la manière d’aborder son chef de service pour lui demander une augmentation, also known as The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise.

    Poole tackles the Vintage UK edition, released concurrently with the Verso edition, as he assimilates the stylism of Perec and circumperambulates about the task of reviewing the unconventional text—and, à la L’art et la maniere d’aborder (ou à L’art?), dispenses of punctuation and capitalization, writes in the second person, and establishes a series of hypothetical situations, all within the span of a single-sentence review.

    To quote Poole mid-sentence:

    … functioning as a satire for the author’s day and oh yes our own on the subtly crushing effects of corporate life which was always after all the genius of perec to marry a deeply humane melancholy with dazzling formal experiments of which this one is also a deftly recursive simulation of the choices facing the writer of fiction as the text circles back on itself with varied refrains such as …

    Continue Reading

  • "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.

    Continue Reading

  • Praise for Perec's inquisitive spirit in The Millions review of The Art Of Asking Your Boss For A Raise

    In a review published today of Georges Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss For A Raise, Anne K. Yoder opens with one of the book's quintessential (and oft-repeated) mantras: "Let's keep things simple, for we must do our best to keep things simple, otherwise we would be utterly lost."

    Yoder goes on, following in Perec's stylistic footsteps, to examine The Art in ten succinct points. Keenly simple, the article's structure accentuates Yoder's perceptive observations on Perec's philosphy and approach to writing:

    3. Fiction like this, that follows the structure of a computer program, is called "matrix literature." A situation is presented, the answer is either yes or no, and the next move depends entirely on the answer. Either your boss (mr x) is in his office or he isn't, either his secretary (miss wye) is at her desk and willing to shoot the breeze or she's not.

    Continue Reading