The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson is a novel set in current day Sweden in which the government has decided to add a “happiness tax” on the population. Jonas Karlsson is a prolific Swedish author.
- 208 pages
- Publisher: Hogarth
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 110190514X
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson is a gentle satire with sharp social criticism. I have been saying for many years now that our generation (especially the women) are misinformed about happiness at best. We were “promised” some sort of magical “Disney happiness” which doesn’t exist, and never did. Happiness, for me, are the small things which happen daily – a smile from the wife, a hug from the kids, a strange giving a hand to another without an conditions..
The story, told through a first person narrative, revolves around a man living a life so inconsequential, so simple that the author doesn’t even tell us his name. Our friendly protagonist lives a simple life, in a small apartment, working his part-time job in a movie store with not many possessions.
One clear day he gets an invoice from the government for a huge sum of money and cannot fathom why he owes that much. Turns out that besides movies, our narrator doesn’t pay much attention to the outside world, living in a comfort oblivious to the changes around him including the well-publicized “happiness tax” which every other citizen seems to know about.
Our oblivious friend tries to lower his tax by proving to government bureaucrats that he is not as joyful as their questionnaires / psychological profiles /interviews/surveys/analysis shows. In the process of navigating through a complex maze of ridiculous bureaucracy, he also makes a connection with a woman from the inundated help-desk which, surprisingly, is creates and adorable and sincere relationship story.
I felt that even though the story has an unrealistic and ridiculous premise, it works well as a satire on our society and institutions. The novel is another thought provoking fairytale for the modern age delivered in good humor with a wink and a nod.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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