Olga Ravn & Martin Aitken with Heather Parry

Since she published her debut novel Celestine in 2015, Olga Ravn has come to be regarded as one of the most influential writers in contemporary Danish literature. In her new book, The Employees, she has crafted a small masterpiece; brilliantly translated into English by award-winning translator Martin Aitken, whose own work spans Danish and Norwegian literature.

The Employees is a precisely-constructed jewel that takes readers aboard the Six-Thousand Ship as it hurtles through the far-flung universe in the 22nd century. Humans and humanoids give witness statements as testimony to their life in space, and the mysterious objects that they are employed to look after. As their statements unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that the occupants of this spaceship are moving towards an uneasy climax. Curious and unsettling answers begin to emerge in this novel that mirror our current capitalism-driven existential crisis: in an intergalactic cocoon such as this, what does it mean to be a worker, who is really in control and what, frankly, does it mean to be alive?

In this evening’s event, Ravn and Aitken share their ideas with Scotland-based writer Heather Parry, whose work has been published in various journals including The Stinging Fly, and who is co-editor of the Scottish literary magazine Extra Teeth.

This event includes a short performed reading from The Employees by actor Lucy Phelps, directed by Blanche McIntyre on behalf of the Royal Shakespeare Company and commissioned by The Booker Prizes.

Available to watch on-demand shortly after the live broadcast has finished.

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