Help Wanted: A Novel (Hardcover)
One of New York Magazine's "23 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2024" • One of VOGUE’s Best Books of the Year So Far • One of ELLE’s Best (and Most Anticipated) Fiction Books of 2024 • One of Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024 • One of Kirkus’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024 • One of Lilith Magazine’s “21 Books We Want to Read in 2024”
From the best-selling author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. comes a funny, eye-opening tale of work in contemporary America.
Every day at 3:55 a.m., members of Team Movement clock in for their shift at big-box store Town Square in a small upstate New York town. Under the eyes of a self-absorbed and barely competent boss, they empty the day’s truck of merchandise, stock the shelves, and scatter before the store opens and customers arrive. Their lives follow a familiar if grueling routine, but their real problem is that Town Square doesn’t schedule them for enough hours—most of them are barely getting by, even while working second or third jobs. When store manager Big Will announces he is leaving, the members of Movement spot an opportunity. If they play their cards right, one of them just might land a management job, with all the stability and possibility for advancement that that implies. The members of Team Movement—including a comedy-obsessed oddball who acts half his age, a young woman clinging on to her “cool kid” status from high school, and a college football hopeful trying to find a new path—band together to set a just-so-crazy-it-might-work plot in motion.
Adelle Waldman’s debut novel was a breakout sensation, lauded by the Los Angeles Times as an “exacting character study” with “excellent and witty prose” and described as “incisive and very funny” by the Economist and “brilliant” by both NPR’s Fresh Air and the Washington Post. In her long-awaited follow-up, Waldman brings her unparalleled wit and astute social observation to the world of modern, low-wage work. A humane and darkly comic workplace caper that shines a light on the odds low-wage workers are up against in today’s economy, Help Wanted is a funny, moving tale of ordinary people trying to make a living.
About the Author
Adelle Waldman is the best-selling author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., which was named a best book of the year by The New Yorker, Economist, NPR, Elle, and many others. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She lives in New York State.
Whereas Waldman went narrow in the cultural purview of her first book, she has gone wide now…If Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. was a comedy of manners, Help Wanted is a tragedy of circumstance…As ever, Waldman is a sharp observer of the world, a writer whose attention to particulars only sharpens the big picture.
— Jordan Kisner - The Atlantic
The workplace dramedy of the year.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred)
A bracing and worthwhile glimpse of the high stakes faced by low-wage workers.
— Publishers Weekly
Help Wanted is like a great nineteenth-century novel about now, at once an effervescent workplace comedy and a profoundly human exploration of the psychic toll exacted by the labor market. The characters are so richly drawn—so full, under all their defenses, of the desire to be loved—that even the annoying ones will win your heart. Adelle Waldman is a master.
— Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or
In Help Wanted, the tragic heroes of the gig economy, full of dreams and sob stories and what-if scenarios, concoct a plot to better their lives. Yet even as frustrations mount and their plot goes sideways, hope never dies. Adelle Waldman delivers both a brilliant diagnosis and a moving account of retail workers hidden in plain sight all around us, whose full humanity has never been so richly displayed or touchingly rendered.
— Joshua Ferris, author of A Calling for Charlie Barnes
A serious moral inquiry into the lives of a group of people who work in a big-box store, Help Wanted is a novel about work, about the retail industry in the age of Amazon, and about the effects of late capitalism on human relations. It is also hard to put down.
— Keith Gessen, author of Raising Raffi
What a gorgeous and ingenious and heartfelt work Help Wanted is!
— Michelle Orange, author of Pure Flame
I can’t think of a book more necessary. Adelle Waldman takes us into the universe of American labor with generosity and compassion. It has been a while since workers have been portrayed through the lens of a novelist with such insight and attention to the details of service industry life. Simply enthralling.
— Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends
Help Wanted isn’t just smart and funny and wise. It’s also important—vital, really—to our understanding of how and why the American dream is becoming increasingly inaccessible to working class Americans, even as that long-shot dream stubbornly refuses to die.
— Richard Russo, author of the North Bath trilogy and Empire Falls
Help Wanted is a marvelous novel. We get to eavesdrop and follow and enjoy the misadventures of the motley cast working the four in the morning shift (unloading trucks at a big box store, a place none of these workers can afford). On one level this is about economics and gentrification; on another level it is about people struggling to keep themselves from drowning; meanwhile there are hijinks so funny you blow your tea out of your nose; there’s a perfectly absurd plot straight out of Catch-22. We want everyone to get that lifesaving promotion. The worst thing about this novel is that I finished it and can’t ever read it again for the first time. But now it is part of my life. I am thankful to Adelle Waldman for being brave and talented and bighearted enough to have created this gift.
— Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver