The Factory (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
The Factory By Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd (Translated by) Cover Image
By Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd (Translated by)
Not In Stock - Usually Available in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

The Factory is a short little book that follows three workers recently employed at a highly segmented, ultra-powerful organization that seems to be embedded in every aspect of its employees lives (Oyamada actually wrote this novella after her experience working for one such company). One shreds paper, another proofreads documents entirely out of context, and another is trying to figure out the optimal way to lay moss around the organization's campus. Is something sinister going on? And what's with all the weird birds on the property? I'm not going to sit here and tell you this book isn't bizarre. But if you're like me and you're open to a little absurdity and ambiguity, pick this up; I promise you'll have a blast.

— Hadley

Woooow another tangentially surrealist adult fiction novel that makes you question your life and place in society (at least this one’s not blue). The Factory is easy to take in as you read along, and makes for good intro-level analysis and discussion once you’re done. I would argue that this is a great place to start if you are interested in Kafka or Murakami, but find that their texts can’t find purchase in your head.

— Asma


The English-language debut of Hiroko Oyamada—one of the most powerfully strange young voices in Japan

The English-language debut of one of Japan's most exciting new writers, The Factory follows three workers at a sprawling industrial factory. Each worker focuses intently on the specific task they've been assigned: one shreds paper, one proofreads documents, and another studies the moss growing all over the expansive grounds. But their lives slowly become governed by their work—days take on a strange logic and momentum, and little by little, the margins of reality seem to be dissolving: Where does the factory end and the rest of the world begin? What's going on with the strange animals here? And after a while—it could be weeks or years—the three workers struggle to answer the most basic question: What am I doing here?

With hints of Kafka and unexpected moments of creeping humor, The Factory casts a vivid—and sometimes surreal—portrait of the absurdity and meaninglessness of the modern workplace.

About the Author

Born in Hiroshima in 1983, Hiroko Oyamada won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for The Factory, which was drawn from her experiences working as a temp for an automaker’s subsidiary. Her novel The Hole won Akutagawa Prize.

David Boyd is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has translated stories by Genichiro Takahashi, Masatsugu Ono and Toh EnJoe, among others. His translation of Hideo Furukawa’s Slow Boat won the 2017/2018 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. With Sam Bett, he is cotranslating the novels of Mieko Kawakami.

Praise For…

[D]ecidedly experimental and subliminally philosophical, it best fits someplace between anti-capitalist science fiction and magic realism.
— Andreea Scridon - Asymptote

In a wry, deadpan style, she distills the profound unease of a world where companies grow more and more imperceptibly controlling even as they promise workers less.
— Julian Lucas - Harper's Magazine

Through these characters, Oyamada has crafted a titanic ecosystem of modern work life, complete with the obligatory never-ending office dinner with co-workers and the emergence of strange new species conjured up by the meaningless, enervating patterns of the 9-to-5 existence.
— Japan Times

Oyamada deftly ties together the plights of human and nature, both becoming unrecognizable in an inflexible industrial economy. 
— Kirkus

A noteworthy young female writer with a distinctive voice.
— Lithub

The Factory may take its cues from Kafka, but it’s still very much its own thing: a wry, satirical, discombobulating look at how we’ve all become cogs in the great machine of capitalism.

— Ian Mond - Locus Magazine

The Factory depicts a strange reality, but really points out how similar Oyamada’s surreal world is to our own. This makes it an ideal novel for our moment.
— Megan Evershed - London Magazine

The text feels as disorienting as the place it describes. Exchanges of dialogue are rendered in a single chunky paragraph; a chapter might move back and forth between time with no cue that it’s doing so; the reader might be offered the end of an anecdote then have to read on to find the beginning of it. These are clever tactics, a match of form and subject all the more impressive given this is a first novel.
— RUMAAN ALAM - New Republic

Strangely chilling...
— Alison McCulloch - New York Times

The Factory is a tale of inaction rather than revolt, a story about the warm, velvety embrace of production models, in which Oyamada’s bunker-like Ur-factory comes on like a last bastion of security, a White Whale that nobody’s chasing but ends up swallowing you regardless.
— Bailey Trela - Ploughshares

Disquieting in its slow creep forward, the book presents copious mysteries: What is the purpose of these individuals’ jobs? What does the factory even make? What is up with the human-sized nutria supposedly living and dying in great numbers on the factory grounds? Perhaps even more unexpected is the way writer Hiroko Oyamada refuses to answer the questions she presents, allowing those mysteries, and their unsettling effects, to linger.
— The A.V. Club

The interplay, in The Factory, between what we believe and what we don’t, what we see and what we can’t, becomes the fabric of this strange world.
— Sophie Haigney - The Baffler

She is fond of jump cuts and scenes that dissolve mid-paragraph and flow into the next without so much as a line break. A pleasant vertigo sets in. Objects have a way of suddenly appearing in the hands of characters. Faces become increasingly vivid and grotesque. Nothing feels fixed; everything in the book might be a hallucination.
— Parul Seghal - The New York Times

In quiet exasperation, the characters start to ask themselves not what they do for the factory but what the factory does to them. 
— The New Yorker

In quiet exasperation, the characters start to ask themselves not what they do for the factory but what the factory does to them.
— The New Yorker

Hiroko Oyamada’s “The Factory" descends from a different lineage of workplace fiction that includes Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” Joseph Heller’s “Something Happened” and Ricky Gervais’s “The Office.” 
— Sam Sacks - The Wall Street Journal

Oyamada paints a stirring portrait of modern work-life culture.
— Annabel Gutterman - TIME Magazine

A proletarian novella for today’s world.
— Rieko Matsuura

Three employees at a monolithic factory in an unnamed Japanese city begin to see reality itself seem to mutate in Oyamada’s stellar, mind-bending debut.
— Publishers Weekly (starred)

In surreal, tactile, and often funny prose, Olga Ravn’s The Employees and Hiroko Oyamada’s The Factory present the workplace as a hallucinogenic hall of mirrors, a crucible where our sense of self warps and dissolves.

— Stephen Kearse - The Atlantic

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811228855
ISBN-10: 0811228851
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: October 29th, 2019
Pages: 128
Language: English