The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

In this near-future dystopian world, Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist’s The Unit, ‘dispensable’ people (those who are not ‘needed’ by anyone, i.e. children, and those who are childless and can no long produce children, i.e. women 50 and older; men 60 and older) enter reserve bank unit for biological material where they live comfortable, even luxurious, lives while also being subjected to ‘humane’ medical experiments and serve as organ donors for ‘needed’ people in ‘the community’ where one’s importance is gauged by one’s economic contribution to society (as if ‘society’ and ‘economy’ is a thing separate from people). The staff members at ‘The Unit’ are all disturbingly friendly and sympathetic, and life there is mundane. Until it is not. The novel’s tone is so mundane, so matter-of-fact, that you don’t at first realize how dystopian this world is.

The Unit also provides an excellent metaphor for how easily we’ve slipped into this situation where we place ‘society’ and ‘economy’ ahead of our common humanity, and are all now actively working against our own self-interests, themes I will no doubt return to.

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