Thursday, May 27, 2010
Imagine a world where people in their fifties and sixties who are childless and unattached, are declared 'dispensable.' These 'dispensables' are rounded up and sent to a unit where they live out the rest of their few remaining years as organ donors to the more indispensable people in society. This is the bleak and horrifying future depicted in the Swedish novel The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.
Dorrit Wenger has just turned fifty and is forced to leave her home and beloved dog. At first Dorrit is angry and sad but she soon finds herself adapting to her comfortable environment. The unit is beautiful and pristine, filled with lush man-made gardens. Dorrit has her own apartment complete with a living room, bedroom and kitchen. The only reminder that she's not really at home are the cameras in every corner watching her every move. The unit is also filled with the latest sports facilities, restaurants, cinemas, art galleries and theatres. In fact, it has everything needed to make the donors have a pleasant time while they take part in various tests and operations. Dorrit soon gets used to the cameras and meets dozens of people who are in the same situation as her. The enclosed environment of the unit is fertile ground for very deep friendships and even love. Then something quite unexpected happens. I won't say anymore in case you read the book.
The Unit is a page-turner though quite chilling and disturbing in parts.The author's writing is simple yet still quite descriptive. This is a cautionary tale and one that's open to a lot of discussion. It would make an excellent book club choice.
You can check out another review at Bina's blog: If You Can Read This