The Unit

Author(s): Ninni Holmqvist


One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty-single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries-are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and...well, then what?


THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the "dispensable" ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the "necessary" ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.


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"What a striking, remarkable book -- one of the best I've read in a long time." Frank Huyler "A stunning debut that deserves to become an instant classic." Elizabeth Baines - author of 'Balancing on the Edge of the World' and 'Too Many Magpies'

`Haunting.' -- The New Yorker `Readers actually begin to life better as a pampered lab bunny or as a lonely indigent? But then [Holmqvist] turns the screw, presenting a set of events so miraculous and abominable that they literally made me gasp.' -- Washington Post "A remarkably thought-provoking novel." * Reading Matters * "Holmqvist paces her revelations superbly and the reader is gripped by the atmosphere of slowly mounting claustrophobia." * New Internationalist * "For a debut novel I thought it was stunning" Zoe Page * Bookbag - * "This dystopian world is described with such exquisite balance between its luxuries and cruelties that the reader is emotionally drawn in and made to face up to often uncomfortable and challenging ethical dilemmas. I cannot recommend this novel, nor signal Holmquist's evident talent as an author strongly enough; it is an excellent book." * What's On UK? * "Creepily profound and most provocative." * Kirkus Reviews * "[A] chilling, stunning debut novel ... Holmqvist's fluid, mesmerizing novel offers unnerving commentary on the way society devalues artistic creation while elevating procreation, and speculation on what it would be like if that was taken to an extreme. For Orwell and Huxley fans." * Booklist * "The power of The Unit is its subtlety. Highly recommended." * * "An exploration of female desire, human need, and the purpose of life." * Publishers Weekly * "Holmqvist gives us a lesson in human nature and social engineering through a story that is spare, compelling, and all too human." * Psychiatric Services * "I found this one riveting from start to finish. It could happily find a place on school reading lists alongside Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four." "Chilling, humorous, poignant, thought-provoking, and immensely readable, this is perfect reading-group material which cannot fail to provoke discussion." * New Books * "The Unit rattled me in a way few dystopian novels have ... It's a story that will stick with me." * * "Beautifully haunting ... This is one of the best books I've read over the past two years ... Thought-provoking and emotionally-moving, The Unit is a book you'll be discussing with others long after you're done reading it." * Orlando Sentinel * "Compelling, chilling in spots, and at times heartbreaking." * Flashlight Worthy * "Holmqvist handles her dystopia with muted, subtle care...Neither satirical nor polemical, 'The Unit' manages to express a fair degree of moral outrage without ever has enough spooks to make it a feminist, philosophical page-turner." * Time Out Chicago * "Savagely dystopian ... remarkably deft." * Barnes and Noble Review * Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, this novel imagines a chilling dystopia: single, childless, midlife women are considered dispensable." * More Magazine *

Ninni Holmqvist lives in Skane, Sweden. She is the author of three short-story collections, including Kostym (Suit), and two novels. She also works as a translator.

General Fields

  • : 9781780747217
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Oneworld Publications
  • : 0.248
  • : January 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ninni Holmqvist
  • : 272