The Beautiful Bureaucrat: Helen Phillips

★★★

Helen Phillips’s novel is a curious blend of existentialist thriller, dystopian sci-fi and morality fable, which nevertheless has its roots firmly in the present. Our protagonists, Josephine and Joseph, are a newly-married couple suffering all the problems of modern youth: a sluggish job market; debts; a lack of self-confidence; and a life that seems to be on hold. Desperate to take charge of things, they move into a series of squalid sublets while they hunt for work. And yet, when they do both find jobs, something begins to prey on Josephine’s mind. Something, in this long, hot summer, just isn’t quite right.

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