The Unit

By Whittaker, Peter | New Internationalist, March 2010 | Go to article overview

The Unit


Whittaker, Peter, New Internationalist


The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy (Oneworld, ISBN 9781851687442)

Ninni Holmqvist's début novel is a dystopia in the tradition of Margaret Atwood and Marge Piercy. It is set in a near-future Sweden where society is divided into 'necessary' individuals, who have produced offspring and who work in productive jobs, and so-called 'dispensable' people. Dispensable women over the age of 50 and men over 60 are sent to live in The Unit, a hermetically sealed community. Here they live apparently idyllic lives, their every need provided for and with ample access to creative endeavours.

Into this community comes Dorrit, a single, childless woman, whose profession and age decree a future spent in The Unit. Dorrit accepts her lot and initially she finds the regime congenial; she makes friends and values the stress-free nature of her days. However, the Faustian nature of the pact the dispensables have made gradually becomes clear; in exchange for unlimited creature comforts, they have agreed to donate their organs for transplantation into the necessary ones. …

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