Top 10 books about terrible jobs

Whether living as a caveman in a theme park or writing self-help copy for rice cracker packets, literature has many memorably awful occupations

Terrible jobs are a staple of literature. But it is a somewhat loaded term inviting images of scrubbing toilets, cleaning vomit, etc, when, really, all jobs are terrible, otherwise they would not have to pay us to do them.

I knew I wanted to write a novel about modern cultures of work. We’re working longer hours than ever and the gig economy workforce has almost tripled in the last five years. The Odyssey is set aboard a gargantuan cruise ship and explores this central contradiction: a requirement of devotion to your job which is then not reciprocated with basic security.

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The letters page from London Review of Books Vol. 43 No. 12 (Friday 04 June 2021)

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Josephine Quinn: At the Soane Museum

Howls​ of rage greeted the new concrete paths that were laid over the notoriously treacherou...

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Sell Us the Rope by Stephen May review – before Stalin had blood on his hands

The young Marxist has yet to turn into a monster in this intriguing tale of sexual slights and polit...

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Mother for Dinner by Shalom Auslander review – cannibal identity politics

Bad taste has a purpose in this outrageous satire on tribalism, family relationships and the weight ...

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Seed to Dust by Marc Hamer review – a gardener's story

From a hardscrabble childhood and vagrancy to the life‑enhancing rewards of nurturing both 12 acres...

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Maggie O’Farrell: ‘Having to bury a child must be unlike anything else’

Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, who died aged 11, is the inspiration for Maggie O’Farrell’s remar...

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