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The Factory

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The English-language debut of Hiroko Oyamada—one of the most powerfully strange young voices in Japan.

In an unnamed Japanese city, three seemingly normal and unrelated characters find work at a sprawling industrial factory. They each focus intently on their specific jobs: one studies moss, one shreds paper, and the other proofreads incomprehensible documents. L
Paperback, 116 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by New Directions (first published March 29th 2013)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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(3.5) In an unnamed Japanese city, employment is dominated by an an enormous factory – big enough to be a community in its own right. We explore its strange world through three employees. Yoshiko Ushiyama has always dreamed of working at the factory and is happy to take any role; she ends up as part of a team whose only task is shredding documents. Her brother is placed at the factory by his girlfriend, who works for a temp agency; he's assigned to a never-ending and seemingly pointless proofrea ...more
xTx xTx
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
i like japanese writers. this was an okay to good book. i picked up what she was putting down. i live this shit on the daily. i too am a black bird. i too smell the ocean.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ever wonder what would happen if Kobo Abe, Franz Kafka and Mike Judge teamed up to write a novella? Me neither. And yet here we have this little gem. A strange, dark and exciting work of industrial surrealism.
Jun 27, 2019 added it
No matter how many years I did this, the kids never made any more sense; they were utterly incomprehensible. "It kinda feels like a kitty," the girl said as she stroked the moss. Cats and moss are nothing alike. If you want to pet a cat, go pet a cat.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, translation
the first of the akutagawa prize-winning japanese author's books to be rendered into english, the factory (kojo) is hiroko oyamada's fiction debut (published in its original language in 2013). a slim, but satisfying tale set across many years, factory illustrates the lassitude and existential resignation that often accompanies the drudgery of meaningless, repetitive work. written from the perspective of three different characters, oyamada's story finds her subjects toiling with (and within) the titular mono ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Have you ever had the urge to watch security camera footage of an office worker doing menial tasks? No? Well what if I said that the camera footage cycles through not one, but three office workers doing menial tasks, and sometimes the time code on the footage was messed up? Wait, still no? What a shocker.

Hiroko Oyamada’s The Factory is boring-weird, not interesting-weird. We follow three prospective characters, none of whom are engaging to read about in the least, as they perform pointl
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-women-2019
Weird, surreal -- very good! I can't wait to read the author's next one, The Hole, coming out in 2020.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Three separate individuals take jobs in a gigantic factory in an unnamed Japanese city. One woman shreds mysterious papers all day, taking papers from a never-ending pile. One man studies moss, for reasons not clear even to him. Another man proofreads documents that have nothing to do with the company. None of their jobs make sense although they perform them with the utmost seriousness, and their lives outside the factory are as inconsequential as their work. Oyamada based this award-winning nov ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
Đọc cuốn này lại nhớ bài "Không làm gì" của Ngọt, phải chăng cuộc sống của chúng ta chỉ là những chuỗi ngày trống rỗng vô nghĩa làm những công việc vô nghĩa và khi giật mình nhận ra mình đã ngồi trên ghế không làm gì suốt hàng chục năm trời. Một cuốn sách gây hoang mang và bối rối vì để kể về sự trống rỗng thì lối viết cũng gần như thế, thật sư thì nguyên cuốn sách chả có cốt truyện cụ thể, chỉ có những chuỗi ngày dài với những công việc mà cả 3 nhân vật chính chẳng bao giờ hiểu nổi ý nghĩa thật ...more
Melanie Strouse
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a satisfying read. It should be read in one sitting, and read slowly. Like other reviews point out, the author intentionally jumps between narrators and through time. I did have to go back and reread sections, which still didn't always clear up what was happening. The atmosphere inside this book is what I found most spellbinding. In a way, the individual characters themselves mattered very little, and at least to me, by the end they all kind of intertwined together. I was more interested ...more
Danni Faith
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, bam

The first half is not very interesting but the second half unsettled me. I was deeply unnerved by the end of the novel.

It was hard to know which character was talking at times. This was deliberate on the part of Oyamada. She blends the stories and blurs the temporal state of the characters' experiences. I think this portrays the factory as confounding and as a place that has always existed.

Being that this is a New Directions books, this book both funny and creepy. I enjoyed it, and I think
Anne Jaconette
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bizarre and trippy. I recommend reading this little book in one sitting for best experience. I don’t know what to think of the ending but the rest of the book was so atmospheric and intriguing that I still felt satisfied. Can’t wait to read more from the author.
Richard Janzen
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Successfully showed the Kafka-esque atmosphere of the factory. Which results in it being not really an enjoyable read.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t know what to say about this odd and surreal little book. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. 3.5 stars
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada feels like an Orwellian exploration of entities like the Googleplex, Google's massive headquarters. The story follows three different first person narrators who work for "The Factory". Oyamada never reveals what exactly it is the factory produces, but the descriptions of the work reminded me so much of the operations at the Ministries in Orwell's 1984. One character spends his days proofreading documents that are delivered in packets. The packets appear, get correct ...more
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Hiroko Oyamada (小山田 浩子) is a Japanese writer.
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