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There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  872 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Convenience Store Woman meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this strange, compelling, darkly funny tale of one woman's search for meaning in the modern workplace.

A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing – and ideally, very little thinking.

She is sent t
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 26th 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 19th 2015)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  872 ratings  ·  191 reviews

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This book is quite odd, but I really liked it. It seemed tailored quite specifically to my tastes and preferences, as though someone had taken my heavily customised order in a book café: so you want irreverent narration, a story in which not much really happens but there are constant undercurrents of weirdness, a protagonist the same age as you, a lot of happily solitary characters, a few things that will make you laugh out loud, and no romance at all? Coming right up.

There's No Such Thing as an
Comparing this novel to the work of Ottessa Moshfegh or Sayaka Murata seems somewhat misleading, if a bit lazy.
There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job has elements that may bring to mind certain aspects of Convenience Store Woman but it has almost nothing in common with My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Still, I could have enjoyed Kikuko Tsumura's novel if it had something interesting to say or if it was written in a particularly inventive or catchy way. Sadly, I found There's No Such Thing as an Eas
Jessica Woodbury
If you see that this is a book about work, about a 36-year-old flitting between strange and even surreal menial jobs, you would probably assume this is going to be one of those books about how we are all cogs in this meaningless machine and all of that. But even though this looks like a book about how work is a soul-sucking waste, actually it's the opposite. It's about the way we find meaning in our lives even when we are convinced we want to stay far away from it. It starts quite slow, so get a ...more
Apr 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Reads like a breeze but I didn’t feel that the five loosely connected stories, of people being in general nicer than one imagines upfront, added up to something more in this novel
Accepting those ups and downs, choosing to take on difficult jobs - that’s what life is about.

More thoughts to follow but I feel the first story was actually not really needed or doesn't resonate with the rest of the book, which is a shame because the deadpan tone and sarcasm in that part was my favourite while reading.
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job is a dark and comedic work of magical realism that moves seamlessly between moments of irreverence and moments of solemnity. It questions the quotidian tedium and banality of it all whilst pondering the philosophical and if life indeed has any meaning to it at all. It is award-winning writer Kikuko Tsumura's first novel to be translated into English and was very reminiscent of my all-time favourite writer Haruki Murakami in that it was ethereal and otherworld ...more
Schizanthus Nerd
‘I’d like an easy job.’
I kept asked myself while I was reading whether I was enjoying this book or not and I still don’t have a clear answer. It’s an easy book to summarise: a 36 year old woman is looking for a new job, having experienced burnout in her previous one. Each of the book’s five parts describe one of the jobs she tries out in her quest to find a job that’s not really a job.
I wanted a job that was practically without substance, a job that sat on the borderline between being a job
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Swooping in with one last book of 2020 just before the new year!

Having briefly skimmed reviews for There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job, they are incredibly mixed. And having read it, I can see why. To me, it was... fine. But I can understand why some people loved it, just as I can understand why some people hated it.

The biggest issue for me was that it felt like a book of four (long) short stories, rather than one piece of continuous writing. And as I'm rarely a big fan of short stories and te
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job is a novel about looking for meaning and escape in the modern world, as a young woman looks for the most suitable job for her. After burnout in her previous career, a woman asks an employment agency for an easy job: namely, one that involves no reading, little thinking, and is close to where she lives. She finds herself sitting for hours watching hidden camera footage of an author suspected of having contraband in his home, in a job that is opposite where she ...more
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such an unexpected good read for me and laugh out loud funny that I thot why the heck not? Have a 5! It follows the mild adventures of a girl who burnt out from her job decided to take a series of contract work in some random places. She gets a little too invested in some of her work, sorts out problems that are uncalled for, met some quirky people and eventually in a course of several months kinda healed herself. Within the layers of this book is a sharp eye for urban moroseness, lonel ...more
Chris Haak
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel is about a woman in her mid-thirties who has just had a burnout and is looking for an easy job. She has several jobs and all are far more interesting than what they at first seem to be. Plus she is so damn good at all of them. Both annoyed me a bit at first. But then I kept thinking about some of the jobs she has in this book. They are excellent and so well made up! Her job in the woods for instance,when she has to put up posters. I just have to change my 3 star review to 4 stars.
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
As always with books that are deemed “amusing” I often find myself thinking just how tragic it is. I enjoyed reading it for the most part, but the book has some lengths for me. I can sort of see the parts that some would find amusing, but I don’t know why but this book just overall made me profoundly sad for the people in it and the world in general. Probably me.
Sheree | Keeping Up With The Penguins
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job is Convenience Store Woman meets My Year Of Rest And Relaxation, two books I absolutely loved. The writing is wry, and a little bit weird, just the way I like it. This is a book about the quiet desperation of searching for equilibrium, the perfect note on which to end the garbage year that was 2020.

My full review of There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job is up now on Keeping Up With The Penguins.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
I gave this book four stars because it starts a bit slow. Otherwise, it is very interesting to follow the journey of a 36-year-old woman doing five different 'easy' jobs after suffering burnout, quit her job and moved back in with her parents. Jobs that didn't come to my mind before. Job number five would do for me :D. Like some books from japanese authors that I've read, it gives me from time to time a bit of surreal and eery feeling. Strangely enough, they're addicting. ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I'd sat down one day in front of my recruiter and informed her that I wanted a job as close as possible to my house-- ideally, something along the lines of sitting all day in a chair."

It feels like reading five novellas from the same storyteller but with five different characters, so earnestly told with easy narration. The narrator developed a burnout syndrome in her previous job that she goes quite specific and selective with her next job, although all five just menial and short-term it tells
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-books, netgalley, dnf
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think the timing for this book is just right: we're in a society where people seek meaningful work over paid mundanity, and we're questioning those aspects of work that seem designed to make things more difficult than they have to be. There's No Such Thing seems to approach this in a tired, but relatively upbeat sort of way, unlike other contemporary books about work dissatisfaction, like Halle Butler's manic
Elena L.
Jan 22, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS AN EASY JOB is about a young woman who suffers burnt-out syndrome, abandons her career and asks her recruiter to find her an easy job.

Through several episodes, the story follows her peculiar jobs - from surveillance job to bus advertisement to park maintenance, the main character deals with the lack of confidence and needs to feel validated. She doesn't want to be emotionally involved which prevents her from properly engaging and building a healthy relationship with work
Jos M
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Unusual, witty and thoughtful. Our - I think unnamed? - narrator, a 36 year old Japanese woman, has had a burnout from her old job. She takes on a series of weird temp roles. Each of the jobs are like a little covert mission and there is a difference between the spelled out duties of her role, and what the organisation or the community she is working with actually require. Each of the jobs are slightly surreal and also kind of dull. The writing is extremely absorbing, and Tsumura w ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
(Free review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

I found this book riveting although I have a feeling it will be one of those marmite books... It's a slow-paced, everyday story of a woman who, after suffering burnout and leaving her job of 14 years, enters a job agency looking for a post with ideally very little thinking. Her first new job is surveilling a writer in his home. But as the title suggests, no job is quite as simple as it first seems.
Kikuko Tsumura abso
There’s no such thing as an easy job (2020) is Kikuko Tsumura’s first English translated novel.

A nameless woman walks into an employment agency and requests for a job which requires no reading, no writing, and ideally, very little thinking. Soon after, she finds herself in an array of contract-based odd jobs ranging from working in a hut in a forest, putting up posters, watching a hidden camera in an author’s home (he’s suspected to be holding drugs), working for a bus company, and writing bits
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Set in Japan, out burnt out narrator finds herself at the job centre enquiring about jobs that require as little effort as possible. To start off with you have no idea of her previous work, but she is a woman in her thirties and she has had enough of her last job. There are no clues given as to what that job was but it sounds like it was incredibly stressful and for now she just want an easy life with no hassle.

The job centre comes up trumps and over the course of the year she finds herself work
Jan 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Really struggled with this one. I think the author (and translator) may have done too good a job in describing the pain and monotony of the protagonist's work - I didn't really feel inclined to keep going with this book. The second half takes an unexpectedly dark turn, making it feel quite disjointed from the earlier chapters. I felt like I'd read two separate books by the end of it, although I appreciated learning about then nature of odd jobs. ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: jlit
You never knew what was going to happen, whatever you did. You just had to give it your all, and hope for the best. Hope like anything it would turn out alright.

Well, I was hoping to love this book. Maybe my expectations were too high? I don't know. What I do know is that this was an ok book and nothing more. A while ago I have read one of the chapters (The Bus Advertising Job) in Japanese and quite liked it. It was a nice combination of everyday life struggles and quirky characters. Unfortunat
This was really quirky and certainly had it's enjoyable moments. The protagonist gets amazingly involved in her work in a number of different jobs and that takes her into unexpected situations. Quite a fun read but not necessarily compelling. I had to push myself into going back to it sometimes but it was worth it. Japanese culture certainly comes across as different to my own and this feels like a distinctly Japanese novel.
I'll look out for more by this author.
Another excellent adventure into
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
I am, truth be told, a little fearful of the future of contemporary Japanese fiction IN TRANSLATION. I cannot read Japanese and am not familiar with actual contemporary fiction that’s being published in Japan. What I'm worried about is what we, outside of Japan, are getting. It seems that more and more, Japanese novels are sounding alike. Quirky character(s), surreal stories, basically a slew of Murakami (Haruki) imitators, for the lack of a better term. I think there's a huge market for these k ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Our (unnamed) narrator is a 36-year old woman who has moved back in with her parents after giving up her job of 14 years, feeling burned out and just wanting an undemanding, unthinking job. Through a job agency she embarks on a series of five different jobs, from watching video footage of a writer believed to be involved in smuggling, to writing adverts for a bus route, and ending up perforating tickets sitting in a hut in a forest. The pattern in each is similar: she starts out wanting not to c ...more
Tracy B
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
Thank you Netgalley for sending me this copy. The format was a little confusing in places, possibly due to the translation.
This story follows a woman who leaves her job of 14 years due to burnout and is on the search for an “easy job” ... she tries out many short term roles and meets many new people. But is there such a thing as an easy job?!
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Have a listen to Two Book Nerds Talking’s discussion of this book - ...more
Till Raether
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Five big books rolled into a middle-sized one; especially enjoyed the mild surrealism, and the tenderness Tsumura has for the quotidian and the seemingly unremarkable. Despite the descriptive restraint, I felt I could taste the crisps, see the posters and hear the adverts on the Albatross bus.
Camilla Perotti
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I have so many contrasting opinions regarding this novel. I kept loving it, hating it, then loving it again, then hating it again, and even now, after finishing it, I do not know if I loved it or hated it more.

First of all, I hated the protagonist. We do not know what her name is, we understand along the way that she is 36, and only in the last chapter we know what the job that she left because of burnt-out was. But I could not agree with anything she would think and do. Most of all, I hated how
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if this was worth the hype. But it really hit home. ...more
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Kikuko Tsumura (Japanese name: 津村 記久子) is a Japanese writer from Osaka. She has won numerous Japanese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Noma Literary New Face Prize, the Dazai Osamu Prize, the Kawabata Yasunari Prize, and the Oda Sakunosuke Prize. ...more

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