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The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,006 ratings  ·  118 reviews
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 h
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published March 14th 2011 by Verso (first published December 1968)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If I were to write one sentence (novel) about professional life, this would be it.

Unfortunately, it's already written, and as sentences (novels) go, it's quite long (short) and impressive, despite being rather lacking in decisive action and conclusive argument, but since it does exist in all its incompleteness, I won't write it, as that would be superfluous, and redundant actions should be avoided, which is something I learned from reading this sentence (novel) about how to get a raise, and I a
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
my personal opinion is that we should all immediately quit our jobs, right away, the sooner the better; bash that desktop computer screen to tiny bits with your fists and make a bloody mosaic; pluck the buttons from the keyboard and play an impromptu game of Scrabble with your most loathed office mate; take that cute little gal or guy you secretly crush on out to a field of wildflowers and frig your brains out; make wreaths of crushed wildflowers and long grasses and place petals on your naked b ...more
MJ Nicholls
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
During the one proper occupation I have held down within an adulthood of shameless bumming about in the name of books, I once considered requesting a raise. I was writing a novel entitled A Postmodern Belch at the time, large portions of which were completed in the staff room, and the constant interruptions at having to return to work (in an abandoned hotel for bankers who never read novels), forced me into confronting the boss (an inferior) about the ethics of keeping a promising talent in a wo ...more
Sean Pagaduan
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
you pick up this book and decide to read it see that it's by georges perec and think well maybe the last book was bad and the one before that was horrible but perhaps this one may not be so bad or else you think that the last book was good and the one before that was great superb even so obviously this book would be right up your alley so you go down to the library it's one or t'other either the book is in or it is not in if the book is not in then you have no choice but to go and visit the book ...more
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
so you pick up this book and you either read it or you don't if you don't you're missing out on a really cool experiment that may seem tedious at first but keep with it if you keep with it you will come out in the end with a deeper appreciation of the power or language and an empowerment to break the rules if only to learn why the rules are there in the first place and if you read it which you should you may decide you need to take a break every once in a while because all this circumperambulati ...more
Ronald Morton
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is brief so I will also be brief.

I was going to say that I am perfectly willing to be proven wrong in this, but then I realized that I was in fact not in any way willing to be proven wrong in this, and I won't even bother entertaining counter-points: I don't actually think Perec ever made a literary misstep. Like, ever.

The actual title of this book in literal translation is "the art and craft of approaching your head of department to submit a request for a raise." Believe it or not, th
It's hard to escape the conclusion that Georges Perec was one smart bastard, and this is near the pinnacle of his most smartypants, oulipian experimental fiction. And like the best experimental fiction, it's something us office drones can relate to -- as I write this I'm scanning the fluorescent-lit, Cisco dialtone world which I'm paid to inhabit eight hours a day, and, like Perec, I find myself writing weirdly recursive little scribbles in my notebook. Too bad they'll never be as good as Perec' ...more
Ed Erwin
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
The translator himself has this to say:
Translating a text which is close to being unreadable in the original is a paradoxical but not a particularly difficult task, since ordinary readability is hardly an issue.

He protests too much. This is certainly more readable that much of Gertrude Stein, who also used a great deal of repetition, and is more enjoyable than many of Perec's other works, in part because it is brief.

The concept was to write a story based on the way a computer "thinks", so the st
Nate D
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: oulipo, read-in-2019
Maddening/charming programatic loop variations on office ennui and despair.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
french experimental writer and oulipo member georges perec was commissioned in the late 1960s to "use a computer's basic mode of operation as a writing device." writing within a self-imposed set of constraints aimed at mimicking a computer's internal decision-making process, perec crafted a short work that "simulate[d] the speed and tireless repetitiveness of a computer program by abandoning all forms of punctuation as well as the distinction between upper- and lower-case letters." the result, t ...more
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I should have reviewed it earlier.It missed the boat now.I can only write a postscritum to non-existent review.
It’s useless. All these clever tricks, the whole elaborate plan to entrap my boss in purpose asking him for a pay raise.It now went down the drains.

My firm has declared bankruptcy. Farewell boss,farewell job ,farewell salary increase.In fact farewell salary .
Khitkhite Buri
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really needed this short 'anti-work' text today.

You'd think this was about bureaucracy or wage labour but it's social, and it's th anxiety of being social and since everything tends towards the buying and selling of commodities such as labour you spend your time 'circumperambulating the various departments which taken together constitute the whole or part of the consortium which pays you a pittance while grinding away the best years of your life'.
Chuck LoPresti
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A literary sneeze, a good sneeze - the kind that opens your sinuses and snaps you back into a clearer present reality that serves as Perec’s instructions to write as computer is what’s offered here. I've read that Jarry spoke in an affected rhythmic and metallic voice and it's this voice that resonated in my head through the two long breaths that I needed to read this delightful little book. Despite the fact that you'll be served a single long sentence void of punctuation - this is a very easy a ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious book written in the form of a computer program: if/then propositions and yes/no statements. A highly recursive narrative that nonetheless tells a story: an employee who spends his entire career trying to get a raise. Imagine Kafka meeting the Marx Brothers and you have a sense of the book's level of absurdity. By taking a simple action--walking into a boss's office to ask for a raise--and breaking it down into its component elements and all of the possible outcomes of each element, Per ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book you either love or hate. I thought it was hilarious from start to finish.

Somehow I came across this on Audible in French (vous bougez, vous lisez!) Quelle chance!
Olga Zilberbourg
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fish bones are only a small potential impediment to Perec's protagonist... Along with Lent, bad eggs, measles, unhelpful engineer, bureaucracy, the passage of time itself. A hilarious little book... Strangely perfect for theatre! ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read all in one breath no pauses no commas. Gulp the whole book in one go. Overthinking leads to paralysis paradox, as we enter the tormented mind of the main protagonist, to uumms-ahhhs back-forthing with every possible possibilities and potential outcomes.

▪️circumambulate: walk all the way around (something) especially ceremoniously
▪️rubicon: to do something that you cannot later change and will strongly influence future events
“crossing the rubicon” = pass the point of no return
▪️exploitee = e
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Georges Perec is a writer who likes to play. He is also a writer that for one to enjoy has to be willing to go on the drive with him, and he is for sure the driver. Remarkable on many fronts, this book has super anxiety attached to it. The fear of asking money from your boss or head of your station at work is sweat stained existence for many. And Perec plays on those fears in a very playful way. "Everything needs to be simple" is a thought that runs through out this small book, but simple is oft ...more
David Chess
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful little book. Ultimately probably about the plight of the dehumanized toiler in modern civilization or something, but delightful nonetheless for it.

I will resist the temptation to review it in the breathless unpunctuated run-on style in which it's written, although it would be fun. :)

I've actually read only the (more recent?) David Bellos translation, titled "the art and craft of approaching your head of department to submit a request for a raise" (which I think is a better t
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, french
I would really, really love to see the theatre version of this performed sometime, because I got the greatest enjoyment out of this book while reading it aloud to a friend. One, it's much easier to follow that way, but it's also just that much more absurd when narrated out loud. I'm impressed that Perec was able to pull of writing like a computer algorithm and enjoyably so. Probably my favorite phrase was the "circumperabulate the various departments which constitute the whole or part of the org ...more
Ivan Labayne
Jan 02, 2017 added it
Shelves: arte, europa
in one "sentence," one employee's struggle of, as the title indicates, asking his boss for a raise, "circumperambulating" in his office, frowning upon what he's doing and at times, his own work. a work that points excessively towards the conditions of our actions, putting hyper attention to the thought-process that goes through each act. do we end up not acting because of this? ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: funny, translated, weird
An experiment in writing what is basically a flowchart diagram, sending the reader in loop after loop as they are instructed to ask their boss for a raise. An interesting idea, but I found it extremely boring to read - the odd bit of humour related to capitalism grinding down the office worker fit nicely, but otherwise just a quick read with no punctuation involved.
Jul 26, 2019 added it
Shelves: french, oulipo
Read on the plane to Verona with my sister half sleeping in my lap and sisterly demanding I play with her hair while a Spanish man stares at me the whole time and Clara Luciani is singing to me through my phone.



Oulipo seems to be a perfect distraction from flying. This especially so, and even quite meditative. I very much enjoyed it.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oulipo feels these days a world away, another life - another galaxy of writerly conditions. Yet still there are bosses; still there is anxiety; still, persistently, there are branching paths and single-sentence experiments, and still Perec manages to elicit a smile, a furrowed brow, a sigh. ...more
hahaha, beautifully written in a stream-of-consciousness style, the algorithm (literally in descriptive style) to ask your boss for a raise. The entire algorithm in flow-chart format is at the end of the book. Read for chuckles!
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For we must always strive the keep things simple...
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If we take at face value the theoretical modus operandi of the Oulipo school of literature (a transcontinental workshop of "littérature potentielle"), Georges Perec being the foremost practitioner, we might find ourselves assessing THE ART OF ASKING YOUR BOSS FOR A RAISE (real title: THE ART AND CRAFT OF APPROACHING YOUR HEAD OF DEPARTMENT TO SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR A RAISE, but w/ no caps at all) in terms of how it might be said to go searching for the possibilities germinal in its conception. As ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I had to read this book for my English class in University. I wasn't looking forward to it because the way my teacher described it made it sound like a really boring book. But I wasn't dreading it too much since the book only had like 80 pages. When I actually got down to reading it, I was surprised as to how much I actually enjoyed it. This book is a fast, easy read, and is also quite interesting. This ended up being my favourite book I've read for school in quite a few years.

4.3/5 stars.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story follows the paths of a decision tree; uninterrupted by either capitalization or punctuation to simulate the "thoughts" of a computational program. This probably sounds maddening, but it wasn't, it was weird and immersive and I totally loved it.

Check out the introduction:

And more book details:
John  Mihelic
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Perec, the French master of created literary forms in the Olipo movement, does not in this book teach the reader how to ask your boss for a raise. I’m guessing the Verso editors knew that when they printed this, or perhaps not. What Perec does is show the routinized nature of white-collar work. Everything here is broken down into a process or set of steps like an algorithm, but in this case, the process does not resolve.
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Georges Perec was a highly-regarded French novelist, filmmaker, and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. Many of his novels and essays abound with experimental wordplay, lists, and attempts at classification, and they are usually tinged with melancholy.

Born in a working-class district of Paris, Perec was the only son of Icek Judko and Cyrla (Schulewicz) Peretz, Polish Jews who had emigra

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