BookThug is excited to publish Job Shadowing, the first full-length fiction work by Malcolm Sutton, the widely published interdisciplinary artist and writer (and BookThug's own Fiction Editor).
As well as being thematically driven by the increasingly precarious employment situation of the present and the inescapable legacies of the Baby Boom generation, Job Shadowing interrogates ways in which two people can exist together in tight proximity: as a woman married to a man; as an ambitious employee joined to a problematic shadow; as an idealistic artist dependent on a wealthy employer; and as multiple generations negotiating their statuses with one another.
In crosscutting between two storylines, Sutton's work combines the transformational-fantastic with crystal-clear contemporary reality: In the first storyline, 40-year-old Gil, drawn by the promise of a job opportunity, becomes the real shadow of an ambitious 23-year-old woman employed by an educational company. In the second, Gil's wife, Etti, seeks a more lucrative source of income while expanding the limits of her artistic practice. Little does she expect that, upon venturing into a new line of work as memoirist to the ultra-wealthy Caslon, her role will go far beyond being a writer to something more like a mute witness to all of her client's worldly actions, from the mundane to the speculative to the violent. It is under these seemingly unbreakable contracts that Gil and Etti's lives are propelled into territories of ethical uncertainty, forcing them to rewrite their imagined futures.
Sutton's plot- and idea-driven novel delivers an imaginative take on the contemporary crisis in work, particularly as it relates to identity and belonging. Its interrogative style, likened to the avant-garde writing of Tom McCarthy in Satin Island, explores the processes of art-making in our present social and economic moment. All of this makes Job Shadowing an intriguing and topical book that will appeal to readers of contemporary literary fiction with an experimental edge, and specifically people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who might relate to the speculative world of un(der)employment living.
"Job Shadowing is a work of pure, energizing imagination that speaks directly to our times. As we hang on through each plausible yet impossible turn, the parallel worlds Malcolm Sutton effortlessly creates pull us ever-closer to the underlying currents and desires that make the personal political, then twist back around to become deeply personal once again. A book for our shadow-generation and, at the same time, a work of literature that just might subtly help us break free. " --Jacob Wren, author of Polyamorous Love Song
"A smooth art thriller in the tradition of Bolano, Job Shadowing meddles with corporate culture, dying domesticity and the living, breathing life of the alienated worker. Malcolm Sutton's work is stimulating and standalone. " --Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead
Malcolm Sutton is a writer, editor, and interdisciplinary artist living in Toronto. His fiction has appeared in Maisonneuve, Joyland, and Drunken Boat, and his writing on art has appeared in C Magazine and Border Crossings. He is the Founding Editor of The Coming Envelope journal of innovative prose, and the Fiction Editor at BookThug. In addition to editing and writing, he works as a graphic designer and collaborates with artists on text- and performance-based projects. Job Shadowing is his first novel. Learn more at https://malcolmsutton.wordpress.com/writing/.
Praise for Job Shadowing:
"If you dig the novels of Haruki Murakami, or obsess over the film Being John Malkovich; if you worry about the intersection of art and commerce, or feel trapped in a corporate netherworld, then Job Shadowing by Malcolm Sutton is the read for you. " --Heather Birrell, Toronto Star