Then We Came to the End

Written by: Joshua Ferris

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Winner of the Hemingway Foundation / PEN Award, this debut novel is “as funny as The Office, as sad as an abandoned stapler . . . that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent.” (TIME)

Joshua Ferris’s acclaimed debut novel “Then We Came to the End” is a sharply observed, darkly humorous satire of modern American office life. Set in a struggling Chicago advertising agency at the tail end of the 1990s dot-com boom, the story unfolds through the collective voice of the agency’s employees as they navigate the uncertainties of a business downturn and constant layoffs.

With a tone reminiscent of Don DeLillo’s “Americana,” Ferris captures the peculiar intimacy of office relationships — the colleagues we avoid at lunch despite sitting next to them all morning; the coworkers who know us in ways no one else does. As the agency’s staff copes with the threat of downsizing through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks, Ferris zeroes in on the details of cubicle life and water cooler culture with hilarious precision.

Beneath the humor and office hijinks is a poignant look at the human side of corporate upheaval. Ferris’s brilliantly drawn characters confront the anxieties of the workplace, the frustrations of feeling expendable, and the challenges of maintaining identity and purpose in life’s strangest environment — the one we pretend is normal five days a week. By turns laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely moving, “Then We Came to the End” is a masterful debut that gets to the heart of the 9-to-5 condition.

Giftability

This would make a great gift for someone who works in an office and enjoys funny novels—especially if they work in advertising.

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