THE INVOICE by Jonas Karlsson


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A Stockholm video store clerk receives a mysterious bill for 5,700,000 kronor in a charming story that explores the relationship between money and happiness.

The nameless hero of Swedish actor Karlsson’s (The Room, 2015) short novel is the ultimate lovable nebbish. His simple life consists of going to work, eating takeout pizza, and looking out the window. His pleasures include old movies, ice cream, spending time with a cheapskate buddy, and revisiting treasured memories of his one great love. He is a connoisseur of even smaller diversions: “Then I came up with a new way of puffing out my cheeks and amused myself with that for a while. After that I found the remains of an old sticker that someone had stuck to the side of the counter, now just fragments that it was quite fun to pick off with my thumb and forefinger. Twenty minutes or so later, I’d almost managed to get rid of it all.” When he investigates the massive invoice, he learns that a mysterious authority called W.R.D. has been empowered to levy fees against all citizens for the amount of happiness they have experienced in their lives. But how can a person who owns almost nothing, has no social life to speak of, and has passed up every opportunity for advancement owe so much, he wonders—more than anyone else! Several times more than millionaires and people “whose lives are a never-ending party.” His attempt to understand the bill leads him into an extended phone relationship with one of W.R.D.’s customer support consultants and into a deeper examination of what has caused his “Experienced Happiness” quotient to achieve such heights.

A fable for the ages. Should be read alongside The Trial and Nineteen Eighty-Four as an antidote.

Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-101-90514-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Hogarth/Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2016

Kirkus Interview
Jonas Karlsson
author of THE INVOICE
July 12, 2016

Actor and writer Jonas Karlsson’s new novel The Invoiceexplores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of a hero you won’t soon forget. A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and a movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical bill from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country. How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? “A fable for the ages,” our reviewer writes. “Should be read alongside The Trial and Nineteen Eighty-Four as an antidote.” View video >


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