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The Invoice

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,814 ratings  ·  601 reviews
Hilarious, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s novel explores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of hero you won’t soon forget

A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasu
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Hogarth (first published 2011)
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Amy Nope! At least it wasn't mentioned at all in the whole book.

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  2,814 ratings  ·  601 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book is cray! And a little scary when I actually think about it!

So this nameless dude works part time in a video store. He has an average life. He doesn't do too much. He has a sister and his parents are deceased. He has a friend.

And then one day he gets an invoice in the mail saying he owes 5,700,000 kronor. Now I'm not going to tell you what this money is for but it's crazy train and I'm sure glad it's not real. Lol

He thinks this is a joke at first but then he decides to call the number
Larry H
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
How much would you pay for happiness, for special memories, for a reasonably pleasant life? Is a placid existence worth more than a turbulent, more passionate one?

In Jonas Karlsson's new book, The Invoice , the unnamed main character lives a simple life. He's a film buff, working part-time in a video store in Sweden, where he likes to talk to people about movies, although he rarely gets the chance. He has a few friends whom he sees periodically, but since a relationship ended some time ago, h
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel brought to mind, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, a novel I read back in high school, due to the absurdity of the premise and the situation of the protagonist. “The Invoice” is not nearly as dark and in fact this novel has everything to do with happiness. The protagonist is a 39-year-old single male living in Sweden who works part-time in a video store. His only friend, Roger, seems to be pretty miserable. He has a sister who seems overrun with her family life. His parents are deceased ...more
lark benobi
What if the best things in life weren't free? There is an utter sweetness to this novel in which Karlsson explores exactly this question. The protagonist isn't an especially good person. His life is not particularly well-lived in terms of experiences or relationships or achievements. And yet in each of the every-dayness of his experiences he manages to find great pleasure. There are such delightful details in the writing where the narrator recounts what should have been a dull experience in obse ...more
Jonas Karlsson's second novel to be translated into English is the charming, funny and surreal tale of a man – our unnamed narrator – who is sent an invoice for a huge amount of money. At first he ignores it, assuming it's a clerical error. But then he overhears other people talking about the amount they owe, and it turns out he's missed an 'information campaign, all the discussions... the whole debate'. Swedish citizens are being invoiced for, basically, everything – the whole experience of the ...more
(2.5 Stars) It didn't stir any strong emotions in me, but it was an extremely quick read.

A part-time employee at a video shop receives an invoice for 5,700,000 kronor (≃671,635 US Dollars) from World Resources Distribution. Surely it must be a mistake, so he calls the company to inquire about the absurd bill. WRD informs him that it is the debt he owes based on his 'Experienced Happiness' score (E.H.). Every attempt he makes to lower the score just makes the situation worse! There is nothing sp
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only I knew that I was probably the happiest person in the country. And at absolutely no cost.
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I received this via GoodReads FirstReads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

(more about the line below than the picture)

This book was very charming, intriguing and gets you thinking. How much would we pay for a happy life? What are the different meanings of a "good" life? What would that take into account exactly? If you went to a lot of concerts, had a large family and circle of friends you were close to and had great memories with? The fact that you enjoy sitting on the porch in
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, arc
Our nameless narrator gets an invoice in the mail for a giant, ridiculous amount of kronor. (He lives in Sweden). Surely there must be a mistake! He calls the number for the company and finds out he's been charged for all the happy (or at least somewhat affirming) moments in his life. But how can that be? He isn't that happy, he claims. But as he walks through each (boring) life moment with the customer service representative, his eyes are opened and now he sees how blessed he's been.


Paula Vince
This narrator never divulges his name, but he's become one of my heroes. His story is a great example of why some of the most memorable books about happiness need to be told in story form rather than self help or non-fiction.

Imagine that happiness is no longer a free commodity. The government suddenly decides to make it a revenue raiser, and citizens are asked to pay for all those moments of contentment and satisfaction we've enjoyed all our lives. Invoices are sent out which carefully take into
Jul 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Read all my reviews on

Some time ago I read The Room and based on that reading experience I wanted to read The Invoice. Besides, the premise was also very interesting.

The nameless main character suddenly gets charged a huge sum of money in Swedish kronor for the happiness he's experienced in his life. Convinced some kind of mistake must have been made he tries to show the agency just how average and unhappy his life so far has been. But in doing so... You'll
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
Is it just me, or is this book really badly written? Maybe something got lost in translation, but honestly, reading this book was like pulling teeth! It might have worked better as a short story, because even though this isn't a long read, it sure felt that way. I really like the concept and I figured the extremely dull protagonist was almost like a plot device to really drive a point home, but unfortunately I lost interest before finding out what that point was :(
Cynthia Egbert
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This one really does make you think. What would you pay for happiness. Is it possible to be too happy, especially when you have little in the way of material goods. This quick read really does give you food for thought. There was a sense of a dystopian novel about the whole concept but it made me so happy in the end that I cannot really compare it to 1984, as so many reviewers have in the past. Super refreshing.
Preface to review: Before you discard this book due to my 2 star rating, bear in mind that I normally give satires only one star because I don't like satire, so this book fared quite well.

Quite without the protagonist noticing it, a tax has been imposed on life experience (not sure why people say happiness tax, since even the unhappy are taxed; but the happier you are, the higher you are going to be taxed, but anyone who gets to see blue skies, ever, and nature, or food, or just about anything i
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Wow. I loved this book! It made me think. Now that I've finished it, I want everyone else to read it too so that I can talk about it. What would happen if we were charged money for being happy and for positive experiences? How much is happiness worth? I really enjoy books in which I am presented with an outlandish idea and then I get to see how it all plays out. This book is quirky and unusual and I think if it were read in a book club there would be a lot to discuss. Thanks to NetGalley and Cro ...more
I WAS WRONG. I'M DUMB. my main complaint with this book was that it wouldn't stay with me, but it has, at least a bit. i love this man, this happiest man on earth, and his simple story. again, i'm dumb. this is a 5 star read.

i received this book through a goodreads giveaway.

i love translated books and i read this in one sitting. i also love character-driven novels. but i don't think this one will stay w me for particularly long, and if it does it will only be for the ha
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Invoice is a journey of self discovery which we take right along with the main character. What is more important for our happiness? Reality or perception? Is it more important if their hands really touched or is it enough if we just believe they lightly touched?
An entertaining book with a satisfying ending. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Amy Sunshine
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Amy Sunshine by: The Reading Room
Shelves: netgalley
Disclosure: I received this book as an ARC from The Reading Room.

I really loved the premise of this book, but I was a little disappointed in the execution. The main character (never identified by name) is an ordinary guy leading a relatively simple (some might call it boring) life. He has a few friends, a part-time job he enjoys and his own flat - but he's not in a relationship, he hasn't traveled and both his parents are dead. So imagine his surprise when the WRD (World Resources Distribution)
Danielle N
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Invoice is charming. This was actually 3.5 stars for me. It has all of the appeal of a nice cup of tea on a cool day. The small size and simplistic cover feel very appropriate. There is something inviting about this short story. I do not even care that it does not fit well on my bookshelf. Read the review here. ...more
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Invoice, Jonas Karlsson
What is your happiness quotient? Do you think it is better to be happy or unhappy? In the world of this book, one must pay a price for experiencing happiness. It is not a tax; it is simply the cost one must absorb for how one deals with life. The amount is figured out using elaborate formulas in which all of one’s activities are calculated. It is a formulaic, one-size-fits all method. It is redistribution as an art form!
This is a tale in which big brother is watching
A man who works part-time at a video store, has one kind-of friend, one ex-relationship, no parents, no stress and no ambition. He is highly aware of sights and sounds which becomes a problem when experiences are subject to a new Government charge. He spirals into a Kafkaesque world where his amount owing grows into multi-millions.
A clever satire on bureaucracy and what makes a happy life.
Joann M
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This little book packs a profound punch. Read it. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sweden, happiness
Super Swedish and off-center; this is a lovely little story.
Accountants, especially those working in the corporate environment, are trained to look at everything with a price tag attached with the challenge being to make sure that all of those price tags are recorded in the proper accounts. After all, everything costs something, and nothing is free. In The Invoice, Mr. Karlsson is doing nothing more than taking that philosophy and hypothesizing what would happen if we treated the entire world that way using a regular person to guide us through the discus ...more
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)

This tiny book is so sweet and charming, and that's coming from somebody who thinks horror movies pussyfoot around opportunities to kill off child characters. So it's not cheesy, dopey, or annoying in any way. It was just a very nice time to read. Jonas Karlsson wrote one of my favorite funny books, The Room, and while The Invoice isn't hilarious, it is equally quirky. And equally focused on the ridiculousness of bureaucracy. Karlsson knows what he likes. Or, I guess, hates in this case.

Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Invoice, by Jonas Karlsson, is a quirky and cute little book about a nameless man who receives a mysterious five million kronor invoice in the mail. It turns out that a company has begun to charge everyone for the amount of happiness and other experiences they have had throughout life. Our main character, however, feels he has not had much. He is an easy going fellow who works part time at a video store, and passes his time changing his phone's wallpaper, thinking about trivial things, playi ...more
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, fiction
If money can't buy happiness, how did he wind up with a bill for 5,700,000 kroner? It turns out everyone in the world has received an invoice in an effort to redistribute wealth from the happy in life to the unhappy. For those who have had a good life, it's time to balance the scales and pay up. It turns out the best things in life really aren't free after all.

But surely his invoice must be a mistake! What does he even have to be happy about? He works a part-time menial job with no prospects of
Εξωπραγματικό και σουρεαλιστικό, αλλά και αρκετά αστείο.


For a more thorough review in English, please visit Chill and read

The man is living a small life. He is at his thirties, he works part-time at a video club, he has a friend or two and he enjoys a good film and a pizza. Small, not life changing things, that accompany his quiet life, keeping him away from troubles and controversies. From his small apartment, he can see the sun
Jul 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'd never heard of this book before seeing it on the Blogging for Books website. But after reading the synopsis I decided it was just my type of book. A character/life study. A book with an eccentric or at least atypical main character. What could go wrong? Everything apparently.
The Invoice is the dullest book I've had the misfortune to read in awhile. While the writing isn't bad, the plot is both predictable and boring and the main character...bland? I honestly hated the main character. He doe
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Sven Bert Jonas Karlsson is a Swedish actor and author. He won a Guldbagge Award for Best Actor in 2004 for the movie Details. He published his first book, a collection of short stories, in 2007.

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“Ik probeerde me te herinneren wanneer ik voor het laatst woedend was geweest. Vorige week had ik hardop gevloekt toen het hengsel van mijn papieren boodschappentas kapotging en alle boodschappen eruit vielen en op de stoep terechtkwamen. Ik moest alles in mijn armen houden en was behoorlijk geïrriteerd toen ik in mijn flat kwam. Maar op de een of andere manier ging dat over en raakte ik alweer in een goed humeur toen ik bedacht dat ik nog drie Metro's had liggen met onopgeloste kruiswoordpuzzels.” 0 likes
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